(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Middlemarch : a study of provincial life"



Mx4 









n>a> :;•■;;' 



.^v 



■.^t:^^>. 






m 






Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 
in 2010 



littp://www.archive.org/details/middle1marchstudycelio 



GEORGE ELIOT'S COMPLETE WORKS 
J^antig Uoliime lEtiition, 

PRINTED FROM NEW ELECTROTYPE PLATES. 



This copy is one of an edition of one thousand im- 
mediately following the six hundred impressions of the 
EDITION DE LUXE. 




Dorothea. 



HANDY VOLUME EDITION 



MIDDLEMARCH 



A STUDY OF PROVINCIAL LIFE 



By GEORGE ELIOT 



Vol. I. 



BOSTON 

ESTES AND LAURIAT 

1887 



4- 



TO 

lei^p SDear l^u^banti, 
GEORGE HENRY LEWES, 

IN THIS NINETEENTH YEAR OF OUR 
BLESSED UNION. 



CONTENTS. 



Page 

Prelude 3 

Book 

I. Miss Bijooke 5 

11. Old and Young 126 

III Waiting for Death 237 

IV. Three Love Problems 331 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



DojiOTHEA Frederic Dielman Frontispiece 

Mr. Casaubon and Dorothea . . W. L Taylor 50 

Celia W.L Taylor 200 

Mary Garth REFrsES Mr. Feather- 
stone W.L. Taylor 330 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



PRELUDE. 

Who 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 they 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 resolve. That child-pilgrimage was a fit be- 
ginning. Theresa's passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic 
life : what were many-volumed romances of chivalry and the 
social conquests of a brilliant girl to her ? 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 
rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. She found her 
epos in the reform of a religious order. 

That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago, 
was certainly not the last of her kind. 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 



4 MIDDLEMARCH. 

into oblivion. With dim lights and tangled circumstance 
they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agree- 
ment; 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 ar- 
dently willing soul. Their ardor alternated between a vague 
ideal and the common yearning of womanhood ; so that the 
one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned 

as a lapse. 

Some have 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 certitude. Meanwhile the indefiniteness remains, 
and the limits of variation are really much wider than any 
one would imagine from the sameness of women's coifture and 
the favorite love-stories in prose and verse. Here and there 
a cygnet is reared uneasily among the ducklings m the brown 
pond, and never finds the living stream in fellowship with its 
own oary-footed kind. Here and there is born a Samt iheresa, 
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. 



BOOK I. 

xM I S S BROOKE. 



CHAPTER I. 

Since I cau do no good because a u'oman, 
Reach constantly at something that is near it. 

The Maid's Trarjedij : Beaumont and Fletcher. 

Miss Brooke 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 tlian those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Ital- 
ian 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 impres- 
siveness of a fine quotation from the Bible, — or from one of 
our elder poets, — in a paragraph of to-day's newspaper. She 
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 in- 
quired 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 



6 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come 
out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable 
family estate. Young women of sucli 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 huckster's daughter. 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 
agitation. Dorothea knew many passages of Pascal's Pensees 
and of Jeremy Taylor b}^ heart ; and to her the destinies of 
mankind, seen by the light of Christianit}^, made the solici- 
tudes of feminine fashion appear an occupation for Bedlam. 
She could not reconcile the anxieties of a spiritual life involv- 
ing 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 mart\^rdom after all in a 
quarter where she had not sought it. Certainly 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 canine affection. 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 famil}^ and afterwards in 
a Swiss family at Lausanne, their bachelor uncle and guardian 
trying in this way to remedy the disadvantages of their or- 
phaned condition. 



MISS BROOKE. 7 

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 vote. He had 
travelled in his younger years, and was held in this part of 
the county to have contracted a too rambling habit of mind. 
Mr. Brooke's conclusions were as difficult to predict as the 
weatlier : it was only safe to say that he would act with benevo- 
lent intentions, and that he would spend as little money as 
possible in carrying them out. For the most glutinously in- 
definite minds enclose some hard grains of habit ; and a man 
has been seen lax about all his own interests except the re- 
tention 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 Dorotliea 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 gen- 
erous 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 ques- 
tion, innocent of future gold-fields, and of that gorgeous plu- 
tocracy 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 accord- 
ing 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 offers. A 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 



8 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

books ! Such a wife niiglit 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 were expected to 
have weak opinions ; but the great safeguard of society and of 
domestic life was, that opinions were not acted on. Sane peo- 
ple did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were 
at large, one might know and avoid them. 

The rural opinion about the new young ladies, even among 
the cottagers, was generally in favor of Celia, as being so amia- 
ble 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-w^se ; 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 horseback. She 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 con- 
cluded 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 liave seemed to her a ridiculous irrelevance. 
Dorothea, with all her eagerness to know the truths of life, 



MISS BROOKE. 9 

retained very childlike ideas about marriage. 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 wdien 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 wished it. 

These peculiarities of Dorothea's character caused Mr. Brooke 
to be all the more blamed in neighboring families for not se- 
curing 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 
Loamshire. So Miss Brooke presided in her uncle's household, 
and did not at all dislike her new authority, with the homage 
that belonged to it. 

Sir James 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 measui-ed without a precise 
chronolog}^ 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 w^hich divided the 
bedrooms of the sisters, bent on finishing a plan for some 



10 MIDDLEMARCH. 

buildings (a kind of work wliicli she delighted in), when 
Celia, who had been watching her with a hesitating desire to 
propose something, said — 

" Dorothea, dear, if you don't mind — if you are not very 
busy — suppose we looked at mamma's jewels to-day, and 
divided them ? It is exactly six months to-day since uncle 
gave them to you, and you have not looked at them yet." 

Celia's face 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 
incautiously. To her relief, Dorothea's eyes were full of 
laughter as she looked up. 

" What a wonderful little almanac you are, Celia ! Is it 
six calendar or six lunar months ? " 

" 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 
cabinet here." 

"Well, dear, we should never wear them, you know." 
Dorothea spoke in a full cordial tone, half caressing, half 
explanatory. She had her pencil in her hand, and was 
making tiny side-plans on a margin. 

Celia colored, 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 hesitat- 
ing a little, with a rising sob of mortification, " necklaces are 
quite usual now ; and Madame Poin9on, who was stricter in 
some things even than you are, used to wear ornaments. And 
Christians generally — surely there are women in heaven now 
who wore jewels." Celia was conscious of some mental 
strength when she really applied herself to argument. 

" You would 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 
Poin9on who wore the ornaments. " Of course, then, let us 
have them out. Why did you not tell me before ? But the 



MISS BROOKE. 11 

keys, the keys ! " She pressed her hands against the sides of 
her head and seemed to despair of her memory , 

" They are here," said Celia, with whom this explanation 
had been long meditated and prearranged. 

"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. Doro- 
thea immediately took up the necklace and fastened it round 
her sister's neck, where it fitted almost as closely as a brace- 
let ; but the circle suited the Henrietta-]\Iaria style of Celia's 
head and neck, and she could see that it did, in the pier-glass 
opposite. 

" There, Celia ! you can wear that with 3'our Indian muslin. 
But this cross you must wear with j-our dark dresses." 

Celia was trying not to smile with pleasure. " Dodo, you 
must keep the cross yourself." 

"No, no, dear, no," said Dorothea, putting up her hand 
with careless deprecation. 

"Yes, indeed you must; it would suit you — in your black 
dress, now," said Celia, insistingly. " You m'ujlit 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 j-ou will think it wicked in me to wear it," said 
Celia, uneasily. 

"No, dear, no," said Dorothea, stroking her sister's cheek. 
" Souls have complexions too : what will suit one will not suit 
another." 

"But you might like to keep it for mamma's sake." 

"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 little hurt. There was a strong assumption of 



12 MIDDLEMARCH. 

superiority in this Puritanic toleration, hardly less trying to 
the blond flesh of an unenthusiastic sister than a Puritanic 
persecution. 

" But how can I wear ornaments if you, who are the elder 
sister, will never wear them ? " 

" N"ay, Celia, that is too much to ask, that I should wear 
trinkets to keep you in countenance. If I were to put on such 
a necklace as that, I should feel as if I had been pirouetting. 
The world would go round with me, and I should not know 
how to walk." 

Celia had 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 satis- 
faction. 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. 

" Plow very beautiful these gems are ! " said Dorothea, under 
a new current of feeling, as sudden as the gleam. " It 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 frag- 
ments 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." 

"They are 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. 

*'You would like those, Dorothea," said Celia, rather falter- 
ingly, 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 else. But see, these 
agates are very pretty — and quiet." 



MISS BROOKE. 13 

"Yes! 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 lind such things, 
and work at them, and sell them ! " She paused again, and 
Celia thought that her sister was going to renounce the orna- 
ments, as in consistency she ought to do. 

"Yes, dear, I will keep these," said Dorothea, decidedly. 
"But take 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 b}^ 
her, to feed her eye at these little fountains of pure color. 

" Shall you wear them in company ? " said Celia, who was 
watching her with real curiosity as to what she would do. 

Dorothea glanced quickly at her sister. Across all her im- 
aginative adornment of those whom she loved, there darted 
now and then a keen discernment, which was not without a 
scorching quality. If Miss Brooke ever attained perfect meek- 
ness, it would not be for lack of inward lire. 

"Perhaps," she said, rather haughtily. "I cannot tell to 
what level I may sink." 

Celia blushed, 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 away. Dorothea 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 
little explosion. 

Celia's 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 them altogether. 

" I am sure — at least, I trust," thought Celia, " that the wear- 
ing of a necklace will not interfere with my prayers. And 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." 



14 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Thus Celia, mutely bending over her tapestry, until she 
heard her sister calling her. 

" Here, Kitty, come and look at m}^ 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 par- 
doned her. Since they could remember, there had been a mix- 
ture of criticism and awe in the attitude of Celia's mind to- 
wards her elder sister. The younger had always worn a yoke ; 
but is there any yoked creature without its private opinions ? 



CHAPTER 11. 

" Dime ; no ves aquel caballero que hacia nosotros Aiene sobre un caballo 
rucio rodado que trae puesto en la cabeza un yelmo de oro ? " " Lo que A'eo 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. — Cervan'tes. 

" Seest thou 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, Avho carries something shiny on his 
head." " Just so," answered Don Quixote : " and that resplendent object is 
the helmet of Mambrino." 

" Sir Humphry Davy ? " said Mr. Brooke, over the soup, 
in his easy smiling way, taking up Sir James Chettam's re- 
mark that he was studying Davy's Agricultural Chemistry. 
" Well, now, Sir Humphry Davy ; I dined with him years ago 
at Cartwright's, and Wordsworth was there too — the poet 
WoL-dsworth, you know. Now there was something singular. 
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 things, now. But Davy 



MISS BROOKE. 15 

was there : he was a poet too. Or, as I may say, Wordsworth 
was poet one, and Dav}^ was poet two. That was true in every 
sense, you know." 

Dorothea felt a little more uneasy than usual. In the begin- 
ning 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 triviality. His 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 the Agricultural Chemistry," said this excel- 
lent 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 tenants. Do you 
approve of that, Miss Brooke ? " 

" A great mistake, Chettam," interposed Mr. Brooke, " go- 
ing 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 hounds." 

" Surely," said Dorothea, "it 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 it. It is not a sin to make yourself poor in per- 
forming experiments for the good of all." 

She spoke with more energy than is expected of so young a 
lady, but Sir James had appealed to her. He 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. 

Mr. Casaubon turned his eyes very markedly on Dorothea 
while she was speaking, and seemed to observe her newly. 



16 MIDDLEMARCH. 

'' Young ladies don't understand political economy, you 
know/' said Mr. Brooke, smiling towards Mr. Casaubon. "I 
remember when we were all reading Adam Smith. There is a 
book, now. I 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 hard. I have always been in favor of a little 
theory : we must have Thought ; else we shall be landed back 
in the dark ages. But talking of books, there is Southey's 
* Peninsular War.' I am reading that of a morning. You 
know Southey ? " 

"No," said Mr. Casaubon, not keeping pace with Mr. 
Brooke's impetuous reason, and thinking of the book only. 
"I have little leisure for such literature just now. I have 
been 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 imperfect reader. 
It is a misfortune, in some senses : I feed too much on the 
inward sources ; I live too much with the dead. My miud 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 confusing changes. 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 delivered 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 slovenliness. 
Dorothea said to herself that Mr. Casaubon was the most in- 
teresting man she had ever seen, not excepting even Monsieur 
Liret, the Vaudois clergyman who had given conferences on 
the liistory of the Waldenses. To 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, thQugh.anly 



MISS BROOKE. IT 

as a lamp-holder ! This elevating thought lifted her above 
her annoyance at being twitted with her ignorance of politi- 
cal economy, that never-explained science which was thrust as 
an extinguisher over all her lights. 

"But you are fond of riding, Miss Brooke," Sir James pres- 
ently 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 can- 
tering 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." 

" Thank you, 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. Casaubon. 

"No, that is too hard," said Sir James, in a tone of reproach 
that showed strong interest. " Your 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 necklace. " She 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 agreeable," said 
Dorothea. 

Mr. Brooke was speaking at the same time, but it was evi- 
dent that Mr. Casaubon was observing Dorothea, and she was 
aware of it. 

" Exactly," said Sir James. " You give up from some high, 
generous motive." 

"No, indeed, not exactly. I did not say that of myself," 
answered Dorothea, reddening. Unlike Celia, she rarely 
blushed, and only from high delight or anger. At this mo- 
ment she felt angry with the perverse Sir James. . Why did 

VOL. vii. 2 



18 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 some- 
thing 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 Eomanist 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 insight just manifested. "I know 
something of all schools. I knew Wilberforce in his best 
days. Do you know Wilberforce ? " 

Mr. Casaubon said, "No." 

"Well, 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 philanthropy." 

Mr. Casaubon bowed, and observed that it was a wide 
field. 

"Yes," said Mr. Brooke, with an easy smile, "but I have 
documents. I began a long while ago to collect documents. 
They want arranging, but when a question has struck me, I 
have written to somebody and got an answer. I have docu- 
ments at my back. But now, how do you arrange your 
documents ? " 

" In pigeon-holes partly," said Mr. Casaubon, with rather a 
startled air of effort. 

"Ah, 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 each letter." 

Mr. Casaubon gravely smiled approval, and said to Mr. 
Brooke, "You have an excellent secretary at hand, you 
perceive." 

" No, no," said Mr. Brooke, shaking his head ; " I cannot 



MISS BKOOKE. 19 

let young ladies meddle with my documents. Young ladies 
are too flighty." 

Dorothea felt hurt. Mr. 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 on her. 

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 the same deep eye-sockets." 

" Had Locke 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. 

" Mr. Casaubon is so sallow." 

"All the better. I suppose you admire a man with the 
complexion of a cochon cle lalt.'' 

" Dodo ! " exclaimed Celia, looking after her in surprise. 
" I never heard you make such a comparison before." 

" Why should I make it before the occasion came ? It is a 
good comparison : the match is perfect." 

Miss Brooke was clearly forgetting herself, and Celia thought 
so. 

" I wonder you show temper, Dorothea." 

" It is so painful in you, Celia, that 3^ou 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." 

" Has Mr. Casaubon a great soul ? " Celia was not without 
a touch of naive malice. 

" Yes, I believe he has," said Dorothea, with the full voice 
of decision. "Everything I see in him corresponds to his 
pamphlet on Biblical Cosmology." 

" He talks very little," said Celia. 

"' There is no one for him to talk to." 

Celia thought privately, " Dorothea quite despises Sir James 
Chettam ; I believe she would not accept him." Celia felt 



20 MIDDLEMARCH. 

that this was a pity. She had never been deceived as to the 
object of the baronet's interest. Sometimes, indeed, she liad re- 
flected 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 w^ere like spilt needles, 
making one afraid of treading, or sitting down, or even eating. 

When Miss Brooke was at the tea-table. Sir James came to 
sit down by her, not having felt her mode of answering him 
at all offensive. Why should lie ? 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 attach- 
ment. 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 qualifica- 
tion for doing so. As to the 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 mar- 
riage. In 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 delighted. Why not? A 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 ignor?.nce is of a sounder quality. Sir 
James might not have originated this estimate ; but a kind 
Providence furnishes the limpest personality with a little gum 
or starch in the form of tradition. 

"Let me hope that you will rescind that resolution about 
the horse. Miss Brooke," said the persevering admirer. "I 
assure you, riding is the most healthy of exercises." 



MISS BROOKE. 21 

" I am aware of it," said Dorothea, coldly. " I think it 
would do Celia good — if she would take to it." 

" But you are such a perfect horsewoman." 

" Excuse me ; I have had very little practice, and I should 
be easily thrown." 

" Then that is a reason for more practice. Every lady 
ought to be a perfect horsewoman, that she may accompany 
her husband." 

" You see liow widely we differ. Sir James. I 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 brus- 
querie, 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 tliis cruel resolu- 
tion. It is not possible that 3'ou should think horsemanship 
wrong." 

" It is quite possible that I should think it wrong for me." 

" Oh, why ? " said Sir James, in a tender tone of remon- 
strance. 

Air. Casaubon had come up to the table, teacup in hand, 
and was listening. 

" We must not inquire too curiously into motives," he inter- 
posed, 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 the light." 

Dorothea colored with pleasure, and looked up gratefull}- to 
the speaker. Here was a man who could understand the higher 
inward life, and with whom there could be some spiritual com- 
munion ; nay, who could illuminate principle with the widest 
knowledge : a man whose learning almost amounted to a proof 
of whatever he believed ! 

Dorothea's 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 difficul- 
ties of civilization. Has any one ever pinched into its pilulous 
smallness the cobweb of pre-matrimonial acquaintanceship ? 



22 MIDDLEMARCH. 

'^ Certainly," said good Sir James. " Miss Brooke shall not 
be urged to tell reasons she would rather be silent upon. I 
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, ex- 
cept, indeed, in a religious sort of way, as for a clergyman of 
some distinction. 

However, since Miss Brooke had become engaged in a con- 
versation with Mr. Casaubon about the Yaudois 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 London. Away 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 sensi- 
ble 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 who pretended not to expect it. 



CHAPTEE IIL 

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, 



MISS BROOKE. 23 

and by the evening of the next day the reasons had budded 
and bloomed. For 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 merry children. 

Dorothea by this time had looked deep into the ungauged 
reservoir of j\Ir. 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 under- 
stood from him the scope of his great work, also of attrac- 
tively' labyrinthine extent. For he had been as instructive 
as Milton's "affable 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 mythi- 
cal 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 notes 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 little shelf. In explain- 
ing this to Dorothea, Mr. Casaubon 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 lytille." 

Dorothea was 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 ; 



24 MTDDLEMARCH. 

here was a modern Augustine who united the glories of doctor 
and saint. 

The sanctity seemed no less clearly marked than the learn- 
ing, 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 impor- 
tance of ecclesiastical forms and articles of belief compared 
with that spiritual religion, that submergence of self in com- 
munion 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. 

" He thinks 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 ! " 

Miss Brooke 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 con- 
jure up wonder, hope, belief, vast as a sky, and colored by a 
diffused thimbleful of matter in the shape of knowledge. 
They are not always too grossly deceived ; for Sinbad him- 
self may have fallen by good-luck on a true description, and 
wrong reasoning sometimes lands poor mortals in right con- 
clusions : starting a long way off the true point, and proceed- 
ing 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 
pi^essure of invitation from Mr. Brooke, who offered no bait 
except his own documents on machine-breaking and rick-burn- 
ing. jVIr. 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, 



MISS BROOKE. 25 

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 Greece. Ehamnus, the ruins 
of Ehamnus — you are a great Grecian, now. I don't know 
whether you have given much stud}^ to the topography. I 
spent no end of time in making out these things — Helicon, 
now. Here, now ! — ' We started the next morning for Par- 
nassus, 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. 

Mr. Casaubon made a dignified though somewhat sad audi- 
ence ; bowed in the right place, and avoided looking at 
anything documentary as far as possible, without showing dis- 
regard 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 citstos rotulorum. 
Was his endurance aided also by the reflection that Mr. Brooke 
was the uncle of Dorothea ? 

Certainly he 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 sunshine. Before he left the next morning, while 
taking a pleasant walk with ]\liss 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 personal kind. 
The inclinations which he had deliberately stated on the 2d 
of October he would think it enough to refer to by the men- 
tion of that date ; judging by the standard of his own memory, 
which was a volume where a vide supra could serve instead of 



26 MIDDLEMARCH. 

repetitions, and not the ordinary long-nsed blotting-book which 
only tells of forgotten writing. But in this case Mr. Casau- 
bon'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 Eectory 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 
j)0ssible future for herself to which she looked forward with 
trembling hope, and she wanted to wander on in that vision- 
ary future without interruption. 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 back- 
ward. 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 Feejeean. This was a trait of Miss Brooke's asceti- 
cism. But 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 sol- 
emn glory of the afternoon with its long swathes of light 
between the far-off rows of limes, whose shadows touched 
each other. 

All people, 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 sufiiciently consecrated in 



MISS BROOKE. 27 

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 short- 
waisted 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 sincerity. But 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 messen- 
ger had suddenly stood beside her path and held out his hand 
towards her ! Por a long while she had been oppressed by 
the indefiniteness which hung in her mind, like a thick sum- 
mer haze, over all her desire to made her life greatly effective. 
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 Char- 
acters," 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 



28 MIDDLEMARCH. 

inexplicable, might be prayed for and seasonably exhorted. 
From such 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 inconsistency. 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. 

" I should learn everything then," she said to herself, still 
walking quickly along the bridle road through the wood. " It 
would be my duty to study that I might help him the better 
in his great works. There would be nothing trivial about our 
lives. Every-day things with us would mean the greatest 
things. It would be like marrying Pascal. I should learn to 
see the truth by the same light as great men have seen it by. 
And then I should know Avhat to do, when I got older : I 
should see how it was possible to lead a grand life here — now 
— in England. I 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 time." 

Dorothea 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 road. The well-groomed 
chestnut horse and two beautiful setters could leave no doubt 



MISS BROOKE. 29 

that the rider was Sir James Chettam. He 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. 

" How delightful to meet you. Miss Brooke," he said, rais- 
ing his hat and showing his sleekly waving blond hair. " It 
has hastened the pleasure I was looking forward to." 

Miss Brooke was annoyed at the interruption. 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 thought 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 disagreeable. Her roused temper made 
her color deeply, as she returned his greeting with some 
haughtiness. 

Sir James interpreted the heightened color in the way most 
gratifying to himself, and thought he never saw Miss Brooke 
looking so handsome. 

"I have 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 
naive toys. 

"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 
irritation. 

"Oh, why ?" 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 frail. 
A weasel or a mouse that gets its own living is more inter- 
esting. I like to think that the animals about us have souls 
something like our own, and either carry on their own little 



30 MTDDLEMARCH. 

affairs or can be companions to us, like Monk here. Those 
creatures are parasitic." 

" I am so giacl 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, John, take this 
dog, will you ? " 

The 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 pets. She had a tiny terrier once, which 
she was very fond of. It made me unhappy, because I was 
afraid of treading on it. I am rather short-sighted.'' 

"'You have your own opinion about everything. Miss Brooke, 
and it is always a good opinion." 

What answer was possible to such stupid complimenting ? 

" Do you know, I envy you that," Sir James said, as they 
continued walking at the rather brisk pace set by Dorothea. 

" I don't quite understand what you mean." 

"Your power of forming an opinion. I can form an opin- 
ion of persons. I 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 sides." 

"Or that seem sensible. Perhaps we don't always discrimi- 
nate between sense and nonsense." 

Dorothea felt that she was rather rude. 

"Exactly," said Sir James. "But you seem to have the 
power of discrimination." 

"On the contrary, I am often unable to decide. But 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 expression. He said you wanted Mr. Brooke to 
build a new set of cottages, but he seemed to think it hardly 



MISS BROOKE. 31 

probable that your uncle would consent. Do you know, that 
is one of the things I wish to do — I mean, on my own estate. 
I 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 answer. But, after all, it is worth doing." 

"Worth doing! yes, indeed," said Dorothea, energetically, 
forgetting her previous small vexations. "I think we de- 
serve 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 and affections." 

" Will you show me your plan ? " 

'^ Yes, certainly. I 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 happi- 
ness 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 park-gate." 

Dorothea was 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 poverty beautiful ! 

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 opin- 
ion. The Maltese puppy 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. 

Celia was 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 



32 MIDDI.EMAKCH. 

liow very uncomfortable Sir James would be ! I cannot bear 
notions." 

It was Celia's private luxury to indulge in this dislike. She 
dared not confess it to her sister in an}^ 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 rhap- 
sodic mood by reminding her that people were staring, not lis- 
tening. Celia was not impulsive: what she had to say could 
wait, and came from her always with the same quiet staccato 
evenness. When people talked with energy and emphasis she 
watched their faces and features merely. She never could un- 
derstand 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 Dorothea had three more con- 
versations with him, and was convinced that her first impres- 
sions had been just. He was all 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 effec- 
tive on her inclination because it was now obvious that his 
visits were made for her sake. This accomplished man con- 
descended 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 correction. 
What 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 cupboard. He 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 rever- 



MTSS BROOKE. 83 

ently at Mr. Casaubon's religious elevation above herself as she 
did at his intellect and learning. He assented to her expres- 
sions of devout feeling, and usually with an appropriate quota- 
tion; 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 guid- 
ance. 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 nar- 
row 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 wicked- 
ness of pagan despots. Should 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 de- 
tected herself in these speculations. But her uncle had been 
invited to go to Lowick to stay a couple of days : was it rea- 
sonable to suppose that Mr. Casaubon delighted in Mr. Brooke's 
society for its own sake, either with or without documents ? 

Meanwhile that little disappointment made her delight the 
more in Sir James Chettani's readiness to set on foot the de- 
sired improvements. He came njuch oftener than Mr. Casau- 
bon, and Dorothea ceased to find him disagreeable since he 
showed himself so entirely in earnest ; for he had already en- 
tered 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 sites. Sir James said "Exactly," and she bore the 
word remarkably well. 

Certainly these men who had so few spontaneous ideas might 

VOL. VII. 3 



34 MIDDLEMARCH. 

be very useful members of society under good feminine direc- 
tion, if they were fortunate in choosing tlieir sisters-in-law ! It 
is difficult to say whether there was or was not a little wilful- 
ness 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 igno- 
rant 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. 



CHAPTER IV. 

1st Gent. Our deeds are fetters that we forge ourselves. 
2c?. Gent. Ay, truly : but I think it is the world 
That brings the iron. 

" Sir James 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 Dorothea, inconsiderately. 

" You mean that he appears silly." 

" No, no," said Dorothea, recollecting herself, and laying her 
hand on her sister's a moment, " but he does not talk equally 
well on all subjects." 

'- 1 should think none but disagreeable people do," said Celia, 
in her usual purring way. " They must be very dreadful to 
live with. Only think ! at breakfast, and always." 

Dorothea laughed. "0 Kitty, you are a wonderful crea- 
ture I " She pinched Celia's chin, being in the mood now to 
think her very winning and lovely — fit hereafter to be an eter- 
nal cherub, and if it were not doctrinally wrong to say so, 
hardly more in need of salvation than a squirrel. " Of course 



MISS BROOKE. 36 

people need not be always talking well. Only one tells the 
quality of their minds when they try to t.ilk well." 

" You mean that Sir James tries and fails." 

" I was speaking generally. Why do you catechise me about 
Sir James ? It is not the object of his life to please me." 

" Now, Dodo, can you really believe that ? " 

"Certainly. He 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 decisive 
event. Celia blushed, but said at once — 

" Pray do not make that mistake any longer. Dodo. 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 jMiss 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 un- 
welcome revelation. "You must have asked her questions. 
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 quite 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 plans. And uncle too — I know he expects it. 
Every one can see that Sir James is very much in love with 
you." 

The revulsion was so strong and painful in Dorothea's mind 
that the tears welled up and flowed abundantly. All her dear 
plans were embittered, and she thought with disgust of Sir 
James's conceiving that she recognized him as her lover. 
There was vexation too on account of Celia. 

" How could he expect it ? " she burst forth in her most im- 
petuous manner. " I have never agreed with him about an}^- 
thing 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." 



36 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"FoDd of him, Celia ! How can you choose such odious ex- 
pressions ? '' said Dorothea, passionately. 

" Dear me, Dorothea, I suppose it would be right for you to 
be fond of a man whom you accepted for a husband." 

"It is 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 wrong place. You always 
see what nobody else sees ; it is impossible to satisfy you ; yet 
you never see what is quite plain. That 's 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 speculation ? 

" It is very painful," said Dorothea, feeling scourged. " I 
can have no more to do with the cottages. I must be uncivil 
to him. I must tell him I will have nothing to do with them. 
It is very painful." Her eyes filled again with tears. 

" Wait a little. Think 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 amiable staccato. "It is very hard : 
it is your favorite fad to draw plans." 

^^ Fad to draw plans! Do 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 Chris- 
tian, living among people with such petty thoughts ? " 

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 intoler- 
able 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 
an37- discouraging presence in the " Pilgrim's Progress." The 
fad of drawing plans ! . What was life worth — what great 



MISS BROOKE. 37 

faith was possible when the whole effect of one's actions could 
be withered up into such parched rubbish as that ? AYhen she 
got out of the carriage, her cheeks were pale and her eyelids 
red. She was an image of sorrow, and her uncle who 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. 

" Well, my dears," he said, kindly, as they went up to kiss 
him, "I hope nothing disagreeable has happened while I have 
been away." 

" No, uncle," said Celia, " we have been to Freshitt to look 
at the cottages. We thought you would have been at home to 
lunch." 

" I came by Lowick to lunch — you did n't know I came by 
Lowick. And I have 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 expectation. They were pam- 
phlets about the early Church. The oppression of Celia, Tan- 
tripp, 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. 

She was getting away from Tipton and Freshitt, and her 
own sad liability to tread in the wrong places on her way to 
the New Jerusalem. 

IMr. 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 lei- 
surely, air, as if he had nothing particular to say. Dorothea 



38 MIDDLEMARCH. 

closed her pamphlet, as soon as she was aware of her uncle's 
presence, and rose as if to go. Usually 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 appar- 
ently from his usual tendency to say what he had said before. 
This fundamental principle of human speech was markedly ex- 
hibited in Mr. Brooke. " I lunched there and saw Casaubon's 
library, and that kind of thing. There 's a sharp air, driving. 
Won't you sit down, my dear ? You look cold." 

Dorothea felt quite inclined to accept the invitation. Some 
times, when her uncle's easy way of taking things did not 
happen to be exasperating, it was rather soothing. She threw 
off her mantle and bonnet, and sat down opposite to him, enjoy- 
ing the glow, but lifting up her beautiful hands for a screen. 
They were 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. 

She bethouglit herself now of the condemned criminal. 
"What news have you brought about the sheep-stealer, 
uncle ? " 

" What, poor Bunch ? — well, it seems we can't get him off 
— he is to be hanged." 

Dorothea's brow took an expression of reprobation and pity. 

" Hanged, you know," said Mr. Brooke, with a quiet nod. 
"Poor Eomilly ! he would have helped us. I knevv" Eomilly. 
Casaubon did n't know Eomilly. He 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 acquaintances ? " 

" That 's true. But a man mopes, you know. I have alwaj^s 
been a bachelor too, but I have 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 



MISS BROOKE. 39 

does, you know. He wants a companion — a companion, you 
know." 

" It would be a great honor to any one to be his companion," 
said Dorothea, energetically. 

" You like him, eh ? " said Mr. Brooke, without showing 
any surprise, or other emotion. "Well, now, I 've known 
Casaubon ten years, ever since he came to Lowick. But I 
never got anything out of him — any ideas, you know. How- 
ever, 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 dear." 

Dorothea could not speak. 

" The fact is, he has a very high opinion indeed of you. 
And he speaks uncommonly well — does Casaubon. He has 
deferred to me, you not being of age. In short, I have prom- 
ised to speak to you, though I told him I thought there was 
not much chance. I was bound to tell him that. I said, my 
niece is very young, and that kind of thing. But I did n't 
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 soinething 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 unmixedly 
kind. Since Dorothea did not speak immediately, he repeated, 
" I thought it better to tell you, m.y dear." 

" Thank you, uncle," said 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 ever saw." 

Mr. Brooke paused a little, and then said in a lingering low 
tone, " Ah ? . . . Well ! He is a good match in some respects. 
But now, Chettam is a good match. And our land lies to- 
gether. I shall never interfere against your wishes, my dear. 



40 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 point. I wish you to marry w^ell ; 
and I have good reason to believe that Chettam wishes to 
marry you. I mention it, you know." 

" It is impossible that I should ever marry Sir James Chet- 
tam," said Dorothea. " If he thinks of marrying me, he has 
made a great mistake." 

^'That is it, you see. One never knows. 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. 

Mr. Brooke wondered, and felt that women were an inex- 
haustible 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 at all. 

'• Well, but Casaubon, now. There is no hurry — 1 mean 
for you. It 's true, every year wdll tell upon him. He is 
over five-and-forty, you know. I 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 income is good — he has a handsome 
property independent of the Church — his income is good. 
Still he is not young, and I must not conceal from you, my 
dear, that I think his health is not over-strong. I know noth- 
ing else against him." 

" I should not wish to have a husband very near my own 
age," said Dorothea, with grave decision. " I should wish to 
have a husband who was above me in judgment and in all 
knowledge." 

Mr. Brooke 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." 

" I cannot 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." 



MISS BROOKE. 41 

" Very true. You could n't put the thing better — could n'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 is n't cast in a mould — not cut out by rule and line, 
and that sort of thing. I never married myself, and it Avill be 
the better for you and yours. The fact is, I never loved any 
one well enough to put myself into a noose for them. It is 
a noose, you know. Temper, now. There is temper. And a 
husband likes to be master." 

" I know that I must expect trials, uncle. Marriage is a 
state of higher duties. I 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 thing. I 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 
does n't go much into ideas. I did, when I Avas his age. But 
Casaubon's eyes, now. I 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 Dorothea, ardently. 

" You have quite made up your mind, I see. Well, 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 dear. Think about 
it, you know." 

When Dorothea had left him, he reflecte'^1 that he had cer- 
tainly spoken strongly : he had put the risks of marriage 
before her in a striking manner. It was his 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 



42 MIDDLEMARCH. 

to judge what sort of marriage would turn out well for a young 
girl who preferred Casaubon to Chettam. In short, woman 
was a problem which, since Mr. Brooke's mind felt blank be- 
fore it, could be hardly less complicated than the revolutions 
of an irregular solid. 



CHAPTER V. 

Hard students are commonly troubled with gowts, catarrhs, rheums, 
cachexia, bradypepsia, bad eyes, stone, and collick, crudities, oppilations, ver- 
tigo, 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 Avhether 
those men took pains. — Burton's Anatomy of Melancholj/, P. I. s. 2. 

This was Mr. Casaubon's letter. 

My dear Miss Brookk, — 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 bad arisen contemporaneously with the possibility of my becoming 
acquainted with you. For 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 T had preconceived, and 
thus evoking more decisively those aifections to which I have but now 
referred. Our conversations have, I think, made sufficiently clear to 
you the tenor of my life and j.^urposes; a tenor nnsuited, I am aware, 
to the connnoner order of minds. But 1 have discerned in you an 
elevation of thought and a capability of devotedness, which 1 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 



MISS BROOKE. 43 

the mental qualities above indicated. It 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 to- 
wards 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 feel- 
ings ; 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 presenti- 
ment. To be accepted by you as your husband and the earthly guar- 
dian of your welfare, I should regard as the highest of providential 
gifts. In return 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 usual. But 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. 

In any case, I shall remain, 

Yours with sincere devotion, 

Edwakp Casaubon. 



Dorothea 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 solemn emotion in which thoughts 
became vague and images floated uncertainly, she could but 
cast herself, w4th a childlike sense of reclining, in the lap of 
a divine consciousness w^hich sustained her own. She re- 
mained 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 initia- 
tion. She was going to have room for the energies whieli 



44 MIDDLEMARCH. 

stirred uneasily under the dimness and pressure of her own 
ignorance and the petty peremptoriness of the world's habits. 

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 trans- 
figured girlhood fell on the first object tliat 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. 

After dinner, when Celia was playing an " air, witli varia- 
tions," 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 should she defer 
the answer ? She wrote it over three times, not because she 
wished to change the wording, but because her hand was un- 
usually uncertain, and she coukl not bear that Mr. Casaubon 
should think her handwriting bad and illegible. She piqued 
herself on writing a hand in which each letter was distinguish- 
able 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 look 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 

Yours devotedly, 

Dorothea Brooke. 

Later in the evening she followed her uncle into the library 
to give him the letter, that he might send it in the morning. 
He was surprised, but his surprise only issued in a few mo- 
ments' silence, during which he pushed about various objects 



MISS BROOKE. 45 

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. 

^' Have you thought enough about this, my dear ? '' he said 
at last. 

•' There was no need to think long, uncle. I know of noth- 
ing to make me vacillate. If I changed my mind, it must be 
because of something important and entirely new to me." 

" Ah ! — then you have accepted him ? Then Chettam has 
no chance ? Has Chettam offended you — offended you, you 
know ? What is it you don't like in Chettam ? " 

" There is nothing that I like in him," said Dorothea, rather 
impetuously. 

jNIr. Brooke threw his head and shoulders backward as if 
some one had thrown a light missile at him. Dorothea imme- 
diately felt some self-rebuke, and said — 

'' I mean in the light of a husband. He is very kind, I 
think — really very good about the cottages. A ^veil-meaning 
man." 

" 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 does n'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 
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 could n't, as your guardian, have consented to a bad match. 
But Casaubon stands well : his position is good. I am afraid 
Chettam will be hurt, though, and Mrs. Cadwallader will 
blame me." 

That evening, of course, Celia knew nothing of what had 
happened. She attributed 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 



46 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

recur to disagreeable subjects. It had been her nature when 
a child never to quarrel with any one — only to observe wath 
wonder that they quarrelled with her, and looked like turkey- 
cocks ; whereupon she was ready to l)lay at cat's cradle with 
them whenever they recovered themselves. And as to Doro- 
thea, 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 together. Now, though they had hardly spoken to each 
other all the evening, yet when Celia put by her work, intend- 
ing 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 — 

" Celia, dear, come and kiss me/' holding her arms open as 
she spoke. 

Celia knelt 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 turn. 

" 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. 

" ]S"o, dear, I am very, very happy," said Dorothea, fervently. 

" So much the better," thought Celia. " But 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." 

Mr. Brooke read the letter, and then, nodding toAvard Doro- 
thea, said, " Casaubon, my dear : he will be here to dinner ; 
he did n't wait to write more — did n'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 



MISS BROOKE. 47 

seemed as if something like the reflection of a white sunlit 
wing had passed across her features, ending in one of her rare 
blushes. 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 in 
listening. 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 people. 

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 : sjie had only 
begun to feel disgust at the possibility that anything in Doro- 
thea'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 occu- 
pation, 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. 



48 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Dorothea was 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 alvv^ays odious to her to have any 
small fears or contrivances about her actions, but at this mo- 
ment she was seeking the highest aid possible that she might 
not dread the corrosiveness of Celia's pretty carnally minded 
prose. Her reverie was broken, and the difficulty of 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 know of." 

'' I hope there is some one else. Then I shall not hear him 
eat his soup so." 

" What is there remarkable about his soup-eating ? " 

"Really, Dodo, 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 oppo- 
site to him if he did." 

"Celia," said Dorothea, with emphatic gravity, "pray don't 
make any more observations of that kind." 

" Why not ? They are quite true," returned Celia, who had 
her reasons for persevering, though she was beginning to be a 
little afraid. 

" Many things 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. 

Dorothea's feelings had gathered to an avalanche, and there 
could be no further preparation. 

" It is right to tell you, Celia, that I am engaged to marry 
Mr. Casaubon." 



MISS BKOOKE. 49 

Perhaps Celia had never turned so pale before. The 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 
few moments. When she spoke there was a tear gathering. 

"Oh, Dodo, I hope you will be happy." Her sisterly tender- 
ness could not but surmount other feelings at this moment^ 
and her fears were the fears of affection. 

Dorothea was still hurt and agitated. 

" It is quite decided, then ? " said Celia, in an awed under- 
tone. " And uncle knows ? " 

" I have accepted Mr. Casaubon's offer. My 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 clergjanan, about whom it would be indecent to 
make remarks. 

"Never mind, Kitty, do not grieve. We should never 
admire the same people. I often offend in something of the 
same way ; I am apt to speak too strongly of those who don't 
please me." 

In spite of this magnanimity Dorothea was still smarting : 
perhaps as much from Celia's subdued astonishment as from 
her small criticisms. Of course all the world round Tipton 
would be out of sympathy with this marriage. Dorothea 
knew of no one who thought as she did about life and its best 
objects. 

Nevertheless before the evening was at an end she was very 
happy. In an hour's 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 ends. Mr. 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 of it. 
vol.. VII. 4 



50 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"My dear young lady — Miss Brooke — Dorothea!" he 
said, pressing her liand between his hands, " this is a happi- 
ness 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 charac- 
teristic excellences of womanhood. The great charm of your 
sex is its cajDability of an ardent self-sacrificing affection, and 
herein we see its fitness to round and complete the existence 
of our own. Hitherto I 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 your bosom." 

No speech 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 ? 

Dorothea's faith supplied all that Mr. Casaubon's Avords 
seemed to leave unsaid : what believer sees a disturbing 
omission or infelicity ? The text, 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 igno- 
rance," said Dorothea. " J 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 track. I 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 hijn a blessing 




Mr. Casaubon and Dorothea. 



MISS BROOKE. 51 

in every way suited to his peculiar wants. He was being uncon- 
sciously wrought upon by the charms of a nature which was en- 
tirely without hidden calculations either for immediate effects 
or for remoter ends. It was this which made Dorothea so child- 
like, 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 teacliing 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 he left the next day it had been decided 
that the marriage should take place within six weeks. Why 
not ? Mr. Casaubon's house was ready. It was not a parson- 
age, 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. 



CHAPTER VI. 

"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, 
And makes intangible savings." 

As Mr. Casaubon's carriage was passing out of the gate- 
way, 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 look- 
ing 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 small phaeton. 



52 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

" Well, Mrs. Fitchett, how are your fowls laying now ? " 
said the high-colored, dark-eyed lady, with the clearest chis- 
elled utterance. 

'• Pretty well for laying, madam, but they 've ta'en to eating 
their eggs : I 've no peace o' mind with 'em at all." 

" Oh, the cannibals ! Better sell them cheap at once. What 
will you sell them a couple ? One can't eat fowls of a bad 
character at a high price." 

"Well, madam, half-a-crown : I couldn't let 'em go, not 
under." 

" Half-a-crown, these times ! Come now — for the Eector's 
chicken-broth on a Sunday. He has consumed all ours that 
I can spare. You are half paid with the sermon, Mrs. Fit- 
chett, remember that. Take a pair of tumbler-pigeons for 
them — little beauties. You must come and see them. You 
have no tumblers among your pigeons." 

"Well, madam. Master Fitchett shall go and see 'em after 
work. He 's ver}^ hot on new sorts ; to oblige ?/o?<." 

"Oblige me ! It will be the best bargain he ever made. A 
pair of church pigeons for a couple of wicked Spanish fowls 
that eat their own eggs ! Don't you and Fitchett boast too 
much, that is all ! " 

The phaeton was driven onwards with the last words, leav- 
ing Mrs. Fitchett laughing and shaking her head slowly, with 
an interjectional " Sure/y, sure/?/.'" — 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 uncommuted tithe. A much more exemplary 
character with an infusion of sour dignity would not have 



MISS BROOKE. 53 

furthered their comprehension of the Thirty-nine Articles, 
and would have been less socially uniting. 

Mr. Brooke, seeing Mrs. Cadwallader's merits from a dif- 
ferent point of view, winced a little when her name was 
announced in the library, where he was sitting alone. 

" 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 politics, else you would not be seeing so 
much of the lively man. I shall inform against you : remem- 
ber you are both suspicious characters since you took Peel's 
side about the Catholic Bill. I shall tell everybody tiiat 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 pam- 
phlets, and throw open the public-houses to distribute them. 
Come, confess ! " 

"Nothing of the sort," said ;^^r. Brooke, smiling and rub- 
bing his eye-glasses, but really blushing a little at the im- 
'peachmcnt. " Casaubon and I don't talk i)olitics much. He 
doesn't care much about the philanthropic side of things; 
punishments, and that kind of thing. He only cares about 
Church questions. That is not my line of action, you 
know." 

" Ra-a-ther too much, my friend. I have heard of your do- 
ings. Who was it that sold his bit of land to the Papists at 
Middlemarch ? I believe you bought it on purpose. You are 
a perfect Guy Faux. See if you are not burnt in effigy this 
6th 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 not let 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 



54 MIDDLEMARCH. 

will make a Saturday pie of all parties' opinions, and be pelted 
by everybody." 

" 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 independent man. As to the Whigs, 
a man who goes with the thinkers is not likely to be hooked 
on by any party. He may go with them up to a certain point 

— up to a certain point, you know. But that is what you 
ladies never understand." 

''Where your 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. 'Kobody knows where Brooke 
will be — there 's no counting on Brooke ' — that is what 
people say of you, to be quite frank. Now, do turn respec- 
table. How wull you like going to Sessions with everybody 
looking shy on you, and you with a bad conscience and an 
empty pocket?" 

" I don't 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 him. " Your sex are not thinkers, you know — 
varium et miitahile semiiev — 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 ladies are always against an indepen- 
dent attitude — a man's caring for nothing but truth, and that 
sort of thing. And there is no part of the county where opin- 
ion 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 ? " 

" Who ? Why, any upstart who has got neither blood nor 
position. People of standing should consume their indepen- 
dent 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 



MISS BROOKE. 55 

will be too hard on him if you turn round now and make 
yourself a Whig sign-board." 

Mr. Brooke again winced inwardly, for Dorothea's engage- 
mert 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. Cadwalla- 
der; " but Avhere is a country gentleman to go who quarrels 
with his oldest neighbors ? 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. 

" I hope 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. 

" Why not ? " said Mrs. Cadwallader, with a sharp note of 
surprise. " It is hardly a fortnight since you and I were talk- 
ing about it." 

"My niece has chosen another suitor — has chosen him, you 
know. I have had nothing to do with it. I should have pre- 
ferred Chettam ; and I should have said Chettam was the man 
any girl would have chosen. 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 ne- 
cessity 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. 

" My dear child, wdiat is this ? — this about your sister's 
engagement ? " said Mrs. Cadwallader. 

" She is engaged to marry Mr. Casaubon," said Celia, 
resorting, as usual, to the simplest statement of fact, and 
enjoying this opportunity of speaking to the Eector's wife 
alone. 

" This is frightful. How long has it been going on ? '* 



56 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"I only knew of it yesterday. They are to be married in 
six weeks." 

" Well, ni}^ dear, I wish you joy of your brother-in-law." 

" I am so sorry for Dorothea." 

" Sorry ! It is her doing, I suppose." 

" Yes ; she says Mr. Casaubon has a great soul." 

" With all my heart." 

^' Oh, Mrs. Cadwallader, I don't think it can be nice to marry 
a man with a great soul." 

" Well, my dear, take warning. You know the look of one 
now ; when the next comes and wants to marry you, don't you 
accept him." 

'^I 'm sure I never should." 

"No ; one such in a family is enough. So your sister never 
cared about Sir James Chettam ? What would you have said 
to hhn for a brother-in-law ? " 

" I should have liked that very much. I am sure he would 
have been a good husband. Only," Celia added, with a slight 
blush (she scmietimes seemed to blush as she breathed), " I 
don't think he would have suited Dorothea." 

" Not high-flown enough ? " 

" Dodo is very strict. She 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 sure. That is not 
very creditable." 

" Please don't be angry with Dodo ; she does not see things. 
She thought so much about the cottages, and she ^vaii rude to 
Sir James sometimes ; but he is so kind, he never noticed it." 

"Well," said Mrs. Cadwallader, 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 in marrying. I set a bad example — married 
a poor clergyman, and made myself a pitiable object among 
the De Braeys — obliged to get my coals by stratagem, and 
pray to heaven for my salad oil. However, Casaubon has 



MISS BROOKE. 57 

money enough ; I must do him that justice. As to his blood, 
I suppose the family quarterings are three cuttle-fish sable, 
and a commentator rampant. By the bye, before I go, my dear, 
I must speak to your Mrs. Carter about pastry. I want to 
send my young cook to learn of her. Poor people with four 
children, like us, you know, can't afford to keep a good cook. 
I have no doubt Mrs. Carter will oblige me. Sir James's cook 
is a perfect dragon." 

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 Fresh- 
itt and keeping a curate in Tipton. 

Sir James 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 Grange. 
His horse was standing at the door when Mrs. Cadwallader 
drove up, and he immediately appeared there himself, whip in 
hand. Lady Chettam had not yet returned, but Mrs. Cadwal- 
lader'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 contempla- 
tive stand, she said — 

" I have a great shock for yon ; I hope you are not so far 
gone in love as you pretended to be." 

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 accused him of meaning to stand for ^liddlemarch on the 
Liberal side, and he looked silly and never denied it — talked 
about the independent line, and the usual nonsense." 

"Is that all ? " said Sir James, much relieved. 

" Why," 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 
himself?" 

" He might be dissuaded, I should think. He would not 
like the expense." 



58 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"That is what I told him. He is vulnerable to reason there 

— always a few grains of common-sense in an ounce of miser- 
liness. Miserliness is a capital quality to run in families ; it 's 
the safe side for madness to dip on. And there must be a 
little crack in the Brooke family, else we should not see what 
we are to see." 

" What ? Brooke standing for Middlemarch ? " 
" Worse than that. I 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 Methodistical stuff. But these things 
wear out of girls. However, I am taken by surprise for 
once." 

" What do you mean, Mrs. 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 b}' the know^ledge that Mrs. 
Cadwallader always made the worst of things. ''What has 
happened to Miss Brooke ? Pray speak out." 

" Very well. She is engaged to be married." Mrs. Cad- 
wallader paused a fe^v 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 Casaubon." 

Sir James let his whip fall and stooped to i)ick it up. Per- 
haps 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 horrible ! He is no better than a 
mummy ! " (The point of view has to be allowed for, as that 
of a blooming and disappointed rival.) 

" She says, he is a great soul. — A great bladder for dried 
peas to rattle in ! " said Mrs. Cadwallader. 

"What business 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 suppose." 

" Brooke ought not to allow it : he should insist on its being 



MISS BROOKE. 59 

put off till sLe is of age. She would think better of it then. 
What is a guardian for ? " 

" As if you could ever squeeze a resolution out of Brooke ! " 

" Cadwallader might talk to him." 

" Kot he ! Humphrey finds everybody charming. I never 
can get him to abuse Casaubon. He will even 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 
everybody myself. Come, come, cheer up ! you are well rid 
of Miss Brooke, a girl who would have been requiring j'ou to 
see the stars by daylight. Between ourselves, little Celia is 
worth two of her, and likely after all to be the better match. 
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." 

" Well, Humphrey does n'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 colic. However, 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 it exaggeration. Good-by ! " 

Sir James 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 
Grange. 

jSTow, 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 
another ? Was there any ingenious plot, any hide-and-seek 
course of action, which might be detected by a careful tele- 



60 MIDDLExMARCH. 

scopic watch ? Not 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 in- 
terview 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 our- 
selves 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 ani- 
mated tax-pennies, a stronger lens reveals to you certain tini- 
est 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 more did 
the affairs of the great world interest her, when communicated 
in the letters of high-born relations : the way in which fasci- 
nating 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 ut- 
most accuracy, and reproduced them in an excellent pickle of 
epigrams, which she herself enjoyed the more because she be- 
lieved as unquestionably in birth and no-birth as she did in 
game and vermin. She would never have disowned an}^ one 
on the ground of poverty : a De Bracy reduced to take his 
dinner in a basin would have seemed to her an example of 



MISS BROOKE. 61 

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. Cad- 
wallader 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 hers. 

With such a mind, active as phosphorus, biting everything 
that came near into the form that suited it, how could ]\Irs. 
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 irregularit}^ As to freaks like this of 
Miss Brooke's, ^Irs. 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 Meth- 
odistical 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. 

"However," 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 woman. He would never have contradicted 



62 MTDDLEMARCH. 

her, and when a woman is not contradicted, she has no mo- 
tive for obstinacy in her absurdities. But now I wish her 
joy of her hair shirt." 

It followed 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 charms which 

" 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 agree- 
ably that he was not an object of preference to the woman 
whom he had preferred. Already the knowledge that Doro- 
thea had chosen Mr. Casaubon had bruised his attachment and 
relaxed its hold. Although Sir James was a sportsman, he 
had some otlier 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 mar- 
riage-tie. On the contrar}^, having the amiable vanity which 
knits us to those who are fond of us, and disinclines iis 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. 

Thus it 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 had happened. 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 Doro- 



MISS BROOKE. 63 

thea 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 forth- 
with 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. 

We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappoint- 
ment between breakfast and dinner-time ; keep back the tears 
and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to in- 
quiries 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. 



CHAPTER VIT. 

Piacer e popone 
Vuol la sua stagione. 

Italian Proferb. 

Mk. Casaubox, 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 court- 
ship. But he had 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 him- 
self to the stream of feeling, and perhaps was surprised to 



64 MIDDLEMARCH. 

find what an exceedingly shallow rill it was. As in droughty 
regions baptism by immersion could only be performed sym- 
bolically, so 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 j^^-ssion. Nevertheless, he observed 
with pleasure that Miss Brooke showed an ardent submissive 
affection which promised to fulfil his most agreeable pre- 
visions of marriage. It had once or 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 human 
tradition. 

" 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 read ? " 

" I fear that would be wearisome to you," said Mr. Casau- 
bon, smiling ; " and, indeed, if I remember rightly, the young 
women you have mentioned regarded that exercise in unknown 
tongues as a ground for rebellion against the poet." 

"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 interesting. 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." 

Dorothea seized this as a precious permission. She 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 



MISS BROOKE. 65 

wished to know Latin and Greek. Those provinces of mascu- 
line 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 igno- 
rance : 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 glory ? Perhaps 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 satisfied 
with having a wise husband : she wished, poor child, to be 
wise herself. Miss Brooke was certainly very naive with all 
her alleged cleverness. Celia, whose 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. 

However, Mr. 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 touching fitness. Few scholars would have 
disliked teaching the alphabet under such circumstances. 
But Dorothea herself was a little shocked and 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 reason. 

Mr. Brooke had no doubt on that point, and expressed him- 
self with his usual strength upon it one day that he came into 
the library while the reading was going forward. 

"Well, but now, Casaubon, such deep studies, classics, 
matheinatics, that kind of thing, are too taxing for a woman 
— too taxing, you know." 

•^ Dorothea is learning to read the characters simply,'' said 
Mr. Casaubon, evading the question. " She had the very 
considerate thought of saving my eyes." 



QQ MIDDLEMARCH. 

"Ah, well, without uiiderstanding, you know — that may 
not be so bad. But there 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 
tune. That is what I like ; though I have heard most things 
— been at the opera in Vienna: Gliick, 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." 

" Mr. Casaubon 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 period. She smiled and looked up at her betrothed 
with grateful eyes. If he had always been asking her to play 
the "Last Eose of Summer," she would have required much 
resignation. "He says there is only an old harpsichord at 
Lowick, and it is covered with books." 

" Ah, there you are behind Celia, my dear. Celin, now, plays 
very prettily, and is always ready to play. However, since 
Casaubon does not like it, you are all right. But 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. Casaubon. "A 
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, T imagine, after boyhood. As to the 
grander forms of music, worthy to accompany solemn celebra- 
tions, and even to serve as an educating influence according 
to the ancient conception, I say nothing, for with these we 
are not immediately concerned." 

"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 Preiberg, and it made me sob." 

" That kind of thing is not healthy, my dear," said Mr. 



MISS BROOKE. 67 

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. 

" It is wonderful, though," he said to himself as he shuffled 
out of the room — "it is wonderful that she should have liked 
him. However, the match is good. I should have been trav- 
elling 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 reflec- 
tiveness, 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 his- 
torian 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 la- 
borious nights with burning candles, liad no idea of future 
gentlemen measuring their idle days with watclies. 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 difference. To 
think with pleasure of his niece's husband having a large ec- 
clesiastical 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. 



68 MIDDLEMARCH. 



CHAPTER VIIT. 

" Oh, rescue her ! I am her brother now, 
And you her father. Every gentle maid 
Should have a guardian in each gentleman." 

It was w'onderful to Sir James Chettam how well he contin- 
ued 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 course the 
forked lightning seemed to pass through him when he first 
approached her, and he remained conscious throughout the in- 
terview 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 min- 
gled with compassion. 

Nevertheless, while Sir James said to himself that he had 
completely resigned her, since with the perversity of a Des- 
demona 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 day when he first saw them together in the light of his 
present knowledge, it seemed to him that he had not taken 
the affair seriously enough. Brooke was really culpable ; he 
ought to have hindered it. Who could speak to him ? Some- 
thing might be done perhaps even now, at least to defer the 
marriage. On his way home he turned into the Kectory and 
asked for Mr. Cadwallader. Happily, the Rector was at home, 
and his visitor was shown into the study, where all the fishing- 
tackle hung. But he himself was in a little room adjoining, 
at work with his turning apparatus, and he called to the bar- 
onet to join him there. The two were better friends than any 



MISS BROOKE. 69 

other landholder and clergyman in the connty — a significant 
fact which was in agreement with the amiable expression of 
their faces. 

Mr. 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 anything particular ? 
You look vexed." 

Sir James's brow had a little crease in it, a little depression 
of the eyebrow, which he seemed purposely to exaggerate as 
he answered. 

" It is only this conduct of Brooke's. I really think some- 
body should speak to him." 

'' What ? meaning to stand ? " said Mr. Cadwallader, going 
on wath the arrangement of the reels which he had just been 
turning. " 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 
"svon't overturn the Constitution with our friend Brooke's head 
for a battering ram." 

" 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 bit- 
terness. ^' I mean this marriage. I mean his letting that 
blooming young girl marry Casaubon." 

" What is the matter with Casaubon ? I see no harm in him 
— if the girl likes him." 

" She is too young to know what she likes. Her guardian 
ought to interfere. He ought not to allow the thing to be done 
in this headlong manner. I wonder a man like you, Cadwal- 
lader — a man with daughters, can look at the affair with 
indifference : and with such a heart as yours ! Do think seri- 
ously about it." 

"I am not joking: I am as serious as possible," said the 
Rector, with a provoking little inward laugh. ''You are as 



70 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 James, indignantly. " 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 ! " 

" Confound you handsome young fellows ! you think of 
having it all your own way in the world. You don't under- 
stand women. They don't admire you half so much as you 
admire yourselves. 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 beauty. I don't like Casaubon." This 
was Sir James's strongest way of implying that he thought ill 
of a man's character. 

" Why ? what do you know against him ? " said the Rector, 
laying down his reels, and putting his thumbs into his arm- 
holes with an air of attention. 

Sir James paused. He 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 
reasonable. At last he said — 

" iSTow, Cadwallader, has he got any heart ? " 

" 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 T^ole, 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 them. 
Every man would not ring so Avell as that, if you tried his 
metal. You would, Chettam ; but not every man." 

"I don't know," said Sir James, coloring. "J. 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 



MISS BROOKE. 71 

wish to do what is right, and yet be a sort of parchment code. 
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 inter- 
fere a little to hinder her from doing anything foolish. 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 uncle." 

'' Well, but 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 — T wish 
you would talk to Brooke about it.'' 

Sir James rose as he was finishing his sentence, for lie saw 
Mrs. Cadwallader entering from the study. She held by the 
hand her youngest girl, about five years old, who immediately 
ran to papa, and was made comfortable on his knee. 

^'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 be. Bless 
you, Casaubon has got a trout-stream, and does not care about 
fishing in it himself : could there be a better fellow ? " 

" Well, thei-e is something in that," said the Rector, with 
his quiet, inward laugh. "It is a very good quality in a man 
to have a trout-stream." 

" But 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 her eyebrows. "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 accordingly. Brooke is a very good 
fellow, but pulpy ; he will 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 



72 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Casaubon's disadvantage, unless I were much surer than I am 
that I should be acting for the advantage of Miss Brooke ? I 
know no harm of Casaubon. I don't care about his Xisuthrus 
and Fee-fo-fum and the rest ; but then he does n'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 any- 
thing I can tell, Miss Brooke may be happier with him than 
she would be with any other man." 

" 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 not do it for my amusement." 

"He has got no good red blood in his body," said Sir 
James. 

"No. Somebody put a drop under a magnifying-glass, and 
it was all semicolons and parentheses," said Mrs. Cadwallader. 

" 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 layman. 

" Oh, he dreams footnotes, and they run away with all his 
brains. They say, when he was a little boy, he made an ab- 
stract 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 w^ith." 

" W^ell, he is what Miss Brooke likes," said the Eector. " I 
don't profess to understand every young lady's taste." 

" But if she were your own daughter ? " said Sir James. 

" That would be a different affair. She 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 Badical fellow speechifying at Middlemarch 
said Casaubon was the learned straw-chopping incumbent, and 
Freke was the brick-and-mortar incumbent, and I was the 
angling incumbent. And upon my word, I don't see that one 
is worse or better than the other." The Rector ended with his 
silent laugh. He always saw the joke of any satire against 



MISS BROOKE. 73 

himself. His conscience was large and easy, like the rest of 
him : it did only what it could do without any trouble. 

Clearly, there 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 of mis judg- 
ment. It was a sign of his good disposition that he did not 
slacken at all in his intention of carrying out Dorothea's de- 
sign of the cottages. Doubtless this persistence was the best 
course for his own dignity : but pride only helps us to be gen- 
erous ; 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 persever- 
ance 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 sym- 
phony 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 be- 
tween a man and a woman who have no passion to hide or 
confess. 



74 MIDDLEMARCH. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Ist Gent. 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 ? . . . 

2c? Gent, Why, where they lay of old — in human souls. 

Mr. Casaubon's 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 afterwards. And 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 Celia. Mr. 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 beginning of his career, Mr. Casaubon had 
only held the living, but the death of his brother had put him 
in possession of the manor also. It 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 
the happy side of the house, for the south and east looked 
rather melancholy even under the brightest morning. The 
grounds 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. 



MISS BROOKE. 75 

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 home. In this latter end of autumn, with a sparse 
remnant of yellow leaves falling slowly athwart the dark ever- 
greens 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. 

"Oh dear !" 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 i)rince 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 hap- 
pily Mr. Casaubon's bias had been different, for he would have 
had no chance with Celia. 

Dorothea, on 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 curi- 
ous 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 casts 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 pain- 
fully inexplicable, staring into the midst of her Puritanic con- 
ceptions : 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 
stiuiies of the past were not carried on by means of such 
aids. 



76 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Dorothea walked about the house with delightful emotion. 
Everything seemed hallowed to her : this was to be the home 
of her wifehood, and she looked up with eyes full of confi- 
dence to Mr. Casaubon when he drew her attention specially 
to some actual arrangement and asked her if she would like 
an alteration. All appeals to her taste she met gratefully, but 
saw nothing to alter. His efforts at exact courtesy and formal 
tenderness had no defect for her. She filled up all blanks 
with unmanifested perfections, interpreting him as she inter- 
preted the works of Providence, and accounting for seeming 
discords by her own deafness to the higher harmonies. And 
there are many blanks left in the weeks of courtship which a 
loving faith fills with happy assurance. 

" Xow, my dear Dorothea, I wish you to favor me by point- 
ing 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 requirement. 

" It is very kind of you to think of that," said Dorothea, 
^' but I assure you I would rather have all those matters de- 
cided for me. I shall be much 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 any- 
thing else." 

" Oh, Dodo," said Celia, " will you not have the bow-windowed 
room up-stairs ? " 

Mr. Casaubon 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 ghost of a tight-laced 
lady revisiting the scene of her embroidery. A light book- 
case contained duodecimo volumes of polite literature in calf, 
completing the furniture. 

"Yes," said Mr. Brooke, "this would be a pretty room with 
some new hangings, sofas, and that sort of thing. A little 
V)are now." 



MISS BROOKE. 77 

" 'No, uncle," said Dorothea, eagerly. " Pray do not speak 
of altering anything. 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 motlier," said Dorothea, who had turned to 
examine the group of miniatures. "It is like the tiny one 
you brought me ; only, I should think, a better portrait. And 
tliis one opposite, who is this ? " 

"Her elder sister. They were, like you and your sister, the 
only two children of their parents, who hang above them, you 
see." 

" The sister is pretty," said Celia, implying that she thought 
less favorably of ^Ir. 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 wearing necklaces. 

"■ 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 hanging backward. Altogether it seems to me peculiar 
rather than pretty. There is not even a family likeness 
between her and your mother." 

" No. And they were not alike in their lot." 

" You did not mention her to me," said Dorothea. 

" My aunt made an unfortunate marriage. I never saw her." 

Dorothea wondered a little, but felt that it would be indeli- 
cate just then to ask for an}^ 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 the 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, Doro- 
thea ; for the cottages are like a row of alms-houses — little 
gardens, gilly-flowers, that sort of thing." 



78 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Yes, please," said Dorothea, 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 
" not bad." 

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 com- 
ing up one of the walks." 

"Is that astonishing, Celia ? " 

" There may be a young gardener, you know — why not ? " 
said Mr. Brooke. " I told Casaubon he should change his 
gardener." 

"No, not a gardener," said Celia; "a gentleman with a 
sketch-book. He had light-brown curls. I only saw his back. 
But he was quite young." 

"The curate's son, perhaps," said Mr. Brooke. "Ah, there 
is Casaubon again, and Tucker with him. He is going to 
introduce Tucker. You don't know Tucker yet." 

Mr. Tucker was the middle-aged curate, one of the "inferior 
clergy," who are usually not wanting in sons. But after the 
introduction, the conversation 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 unpleasant. Celia thought with 
some dismalness of the time she should have to spend as 
bridesmaid at Lowick, where the curate had probably no 



MISS BROOKE. 79 

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, he 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 tended. The 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 vice. The si)eckled 
fowls were so numerous that Mr. Brooke observed, "Your 
farmers leave some barley for the women to glean, I see. The 
poor folks liere 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 royal virtue ? " 

"And if he wished them a skinny fowl," said Celia, "that 
would not be nice. But perhaps he wished them to have fat 
fowls." 

" Yes, but the word has dropped out of the text, or perhaps 
was siiha lid i turn ; that is, present in the king's mind, but not 
uttered," said Mr. Casaubon, smiling and bending his head 
towards Celia, who innnediately dropped backward a little, 
because she could not bear Mr. Casaubon to blink at her. 

Dorothea sank 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 Avould 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 



80 MIDDLEMARCH. 

which she would await new duties. Mau}^ such might reveal 
themselves to the higher knowledge gained by her in that 
companionship. 

Mr. Tucker 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 seen." 

"I am feeling something which is perhaps foolish and wrong," 
answered Dorothea, with her usual openness — "almost wish- 
ing 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." 

"Doubtless," said Mr. Casaubon. "Each position has its 
corresponding duties. Yours, I trust, as the mistress of 
Lowick, will not leave any yearning unfulfilled." 

" Indeed, I believe that," said Dorothea, earnestly. " Do 
not 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 came." 

Dorothea was 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 said — 

" Who is that youngster, Casaubon ? " 

They had come very near when Mr. Casaubon answered — 

" 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. 

"Dorothea, let me introduce to you my cousin, Mr. Ladislaw. 
Will, this is Miss Brooke." 



MISS BROOKE. 81 

The cousId 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 fall- 
ing backward ; but there was a mouth and chin of a more 
prominent, threatening aspect than belonged to the type of 
the grandmother's miniature. Young Ladislaw did not feel it 
necessary to smile, as if he were charmed with this introduc- 
tion to his future second cousin and her relatives ; but wore 
rather a pouting air of discontent. 

"You are an artist, I see," said ^Ir. Brooke, taking up 
the sketch-book aud turning it over in his unceremonious 
fashion. 

" No, I only sketch a little. There is nothing fit to be seen 
there," said young Ladislaw, coloring, perhaps with temper 
rather than modesty. 

" Oh, come, this is a nice bit, now. I did a little in this 
way myself at one time, you know. Look here, now; this is 
what I call a nice thing, done witli 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 her. "You 
know, uncle, I never see the beauty of those pictures which 
you say are so much praised. They are a language I do not 
understand. I suppose there is some relation between pic- 
tures and nature which I am too ignorant to feel — just 
as 5^ou see v/hat a Greek sentence stands for wliich means 
nothing to me." Dorothea looked up at Mr. Casaubon, who 
bowed his head towards her, while Mr. Brooke said, smiling 
nonchalantly — 

" Bless me, now, how different people are ! But you had a 
bad style of teaching, you know — else this is just the thing 
for girls — sketching, fine art and so on. But 3'ou took to 
drawing plans ; you don't understand morhidezza, and that 
kind of thing. You will come to my house, I hope, and I will 
show you what I did in this way," he continued, turning to 
young Ladislaw, who had to be recalled from his preoccupa- 
tion in observing Dorothea. Ladislaw had made up his mind 

VOL. VII, 6 



82 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 judg- 
ment, and was certain that she thought his sketch detestable. 
There was too much cleverness in her apology : she was laugh- 
ing both at her uncle and himself. But what a voice ! It was 
like the voice of a soul that had once lived in an ^olian harp. 
This must be one of Nature's inconsistencies. There could be 
no sort of passion in a girl who would marry Casaubon. But 
he turned from her, and bowed his thanks for Mr. Brooke's 
invitation. 

"We will turn over my Italian engravings together," con- 
tinued that good-natured man. "I have no end of those 
things, that I have laid by for years. One gets rusty 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 time." 

" That is a seasonable admonition," said Mr. Casaubon ; 
" but nov\r we will pass on to the house, lest the young ladies 
should be tired of standing." 

AYhen their 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 self-exaltation. 

" What is your nephew going to do with himself, Casau- 
bon ? " said Mr. Brooke, as they went on. 

" My cousin, you mean — not my nephew " 

" Yes, yes, cousin. But in the way of a career, you know." 



MISS BROOKE. 88 

" The answer to that question is painfully doubtful. 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 Heidelberg. 
And now he wants to go abroad again, without any special 
object, save the vague purpose of what he calls culture, prepa- 
ration for he knows not what. He declines to choose a 
profession." 

" Pie has no means but wliat you furnish, I suppose." 

"I have always given him and his friends reason to under- 
stand that I would furnish in moderation what was necessary 
for providing him with a scholarly education, and launching 
him respectably. I am therefore bound to fulfil the expecta- 
tion so raised," said Mr. Casaubon, putting his conduct in the 
light of mere rectitude : a trait of delicacy which Dorothea 
noticed with admiration. 

"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 time." 

"No, he has no bent towards exploration, or the enlarge- 
ment 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 ho from having any desire 
for a 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 poetic imagination." 

'•Well, there is something in that, you know," said Mr. 
Brooke, wlio had certainly an impartial mind. 

" It is, I fear, nothing more than a part of his general in- 
accuracy 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 ordinarv rule as to 
choose one." 

" Perhaps he has conscientious scruples founded on his own 
unfitness," said Dorothea, who was interesting herself in find- 
ing a favorable explanation, " Because the law and medicine 



84 MIUDLEMARCH. 

should be very serious professions to undertake, should they 
not ? People's lives and fortunes depend on them." 

" Doubtless ; but I fear that my young relative Will Ladis- 
law is chiefly determined in his aversion to these callings by 
a dislike to steady application, and to that kind of acquire- 
ment which is needful instrumentally, but is not charming or 
immediately inviting to self-indulgent taste. I have insisted 
to 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. 

" Well, you 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 go ? " 

"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 freedom." 

" That is very kind of you," said Dorothea, looking up at 
Mr. Casaubon with delight. " It is noble. After 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 growing. We 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 Doro- 
thea were alone together, taking off their wrappings. 

"You mean that I am very impatient, Celia." 

" Yes ; when people don't do and say just what you like." 
Celia had become less afraid of "saying things" to Dorothea 
since this engagement : cleverness seemed to her more jntiable 
than ever. 



MISS BROOKE. 80 



CHAPTER X. 

He had catched a great cold, had he had no other clothes to wear than the 
skin of a bear not yet killed. — Fuller. 

Young Ladislaw 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 Conti- 
nent, seeming by this cold vagueness to waive inquiry. In- 
deed, Will had declined to fix on any more precise destination 
than the entire area of Europe. Genius, he held, is necessa- 
rily intolerant of fetters : on the one hand it must have the 
utmost play for its spontaneity ; on the other, it may confi- 
dently await those messages from the universe which summon 
it to its peculiar work, only placing itself in an attitude of 
receptivity towards all sublime chances. The attitudes of 
receptivity are various, and 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 opium. Nothing 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 



86 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 future. Among 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 cousin. If to Dorothea Mr. Casaubon had been the 
mere occasion which had set alight the fine inflammable mate- 
rial of her youthful illusions, does it follow that he was fairly 
represented in the minds of those less impassioned personages 
w^ho have hitherto delivered their judgments concerning him ? 
I protest against any absolute conclusion, any prejudice de- 
rived 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 Celiacs criticism of a 
middle-aged scholar's personal appearance. I am not sure 
that the greatest man of his age, if ever that solitary superla- 
tive existed, could escape these unfavorable reflections of him- 
self 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 him- 
self, 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 
detestable verses ? Has the theory of the solar system been 
advanced by graceful manners and conversational tact ? Sup- 
pose we turn from outside estimates of a man, to wonder, 
with keener interest, what is the report of his own conscious- 
ness 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 pres- 



MISS BROOKE. 87 

sure, 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 confi- 
dence ; 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 pity. 

Certainly this affair of his marriage with Miss Brooke 
touched him more nearly than it did any one of the persons 
who have hitherto shown their disai)proval of it, and in the 
present stage of tilings I feel more tenderly towards his ex- 
perience of success than towards the disappointment of the 
amiable Sir James. For in truth, as the day fixed for his 
marriage came nearer, ^Ir. 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 to 
him than the accustomed vaults where he walked taper in 
hand. He did not confess to himself, still less could he have 
breathed to another, his surprise that tliough 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, w^e find, is a mode 
of motion, which explains why they leave so little extra force 
for their personal application. 

Poor Mr. Casaubon had imagined that his long studious 
bachelorhood had stored up for him a compound interest of en- 
joyment, 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 fatall}^ on the strength of 
them. And now he was in danger of being saddened by the 



88 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 expe- 
rience in which he was as utterly condemned to loneliness as 
in the despair which sometimes threatened him while toiling iu 
the morass of authorship without seeming nearer to the goal. 
And his was that worst loneliness which would shrink from 
sympath}^. He could not but wish that Dorothea should think 
him not less happy than the world would expect her success- 
ful 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 vapor- 
ous pressure of Tartarean shades. 

For to 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 look- 
ing 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 neighbor- 
hood of Freshitt and Tipton had pronounced her clever, that 
epithet would not have described her to circles in whose more 



MISS BROOKE. 89 

precise vocabulary cleverness implies mere aptitude for know- 
ing and doing, apart from character. All her eagerness for 
acquirement lay within that fnll current of sympathetic mo- 
tive 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 con- 
strained 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 expec- 
tation was unbroken, and however her lover might occasion- 
ally be conscious of flatness, he could never refer it to any 
slackening of her affectionate interest. 

The season was mild enough to encourage the project of 
extending the wedding journey as far as Rome, and Mr. Casau- 
bon was anxious for this because he wished to inspect some 
manuscripts in the Vatican. 

"I still 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 
companionship. " You will have many lonely hours, Dorothea, 
for I shall be constrained to make the utmost use of my time 
during our stay in Eome, and I should feel more at liberty if 
you had a companion." 

The words " I should feel more at liberty " grated on Doro- 
thea. 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 T 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 purpose." 

" That is very amiable in you, my dear Dorothea," said Mr. 



90 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 time." 

'"I beg you will not refer to this again," said Dorothea, 
rather haughtily. But immediately she feared that she was 
wrong, and turning to^yards 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 Tan- 
tripp will be a sufficient companion, just to take care of me. 
I could not bear to have Celia : she would be miserable." 

It was time to dress. There 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 preparation. 
She was ashamed of being irritated from some cause she could 
not define even to herself ; 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 ? " 

Having convinced herself that INIr. 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 &ilver-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 expres- 
sion of all search after mere effect. Sometimes when Dorothea 
was in company, there seemed to be as complete an air of 
rej)ose about her as if she had been a picture of Santa Barbara 
looking out from her tower into the clear air ; but these inter- 
vals of quietude made the energy of her speech and emotion the 
more remarked when some outward appeal had touched her. 



MISS BROOKE. 91 

She was naturally the subject of many observations this 
evening, for the dinner-party was large and rather more mis- 
cellaneous 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 phil- 
anthropic 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 professional men. In fact, Mrs. Cadwalla- 
der said that Brooke was beginning to treat the ^liddlemarch- 
ers, 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 coun- 
try, 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 of ideas. 

Already, as Miss Brooke passed out of the dining-room, 
opportunity was found for some interjectional " asides." 

"A fine woman, Miss Brooke! an uncommonly fine woman, 
by God ! " said ^Ir. 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 good position. 

Mr. Bulstrode, the banker, seemed to be addressed, but that 
gentleman disliked coarseness and profanity, and merely bowed. 
The remark was taken up by Mr. Chichely, a middle-aged 
bachelor and coursing celebrity, who had a complexion some- 
thing like an Easter egg, a few hairs carefully arranged, and 
a carriage implying the consciousness of a distinguished 
appearance 

"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 



92 MIDDLEMARCH. 

little filigree about a woman — something of the coquette. A 
man likes a sort of challenge. The more of a dead set she 
makes at you the better." 

" There 's some truth in that," said Mr. Standish, disposed 
to be genial. " And, by God, it 's usually the way with them. 
I 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 devil." 

" 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 Celia either. If I Avere a marrying man I should choose 
Miss Yincy before either of them." 

" Well, make up, make up," said Mi\ Standi sh, jocosely ; 
" you see the middle-aged fellows carry the day." 

Mr. Chichely 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 Yincy who had the honor of being Mr. Chichely's 
ideal was of course not present; for Mr. Brooke, always ob- 
jecting 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 occasion. The feminine part of the 
company included none whom Lady Chettam or Mrs. Cadwal- 
lader could object to ; for ]\Irs. 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 pro- 
fessional 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. Ren- 
frew's account of symptoms, and into the amazing futility in 
her case of all strengthening medicines. 

" Where can all the strength of those medicines go, my 



MISS BROOKE. 93 

dear ? " said the mild but stately dowager, turning to Mrs. Cad- 
wallader reflectively, when Mrs. Renfrew's attention was called 
away. 

'' It strengtliens the disease," said the Rector's wife, much 
too well-born not to be an amateur in medicine. " Everything 
depends on 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 mill.'' 

" Then she ought to take medicines that would reduce — re- 
duce the disease, you know, if you are right, my dear. And I 
think what you say is reasonable." 

" Certainly it is reasonaljle. 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, should n't you? — or 
a dry hot-air bath. Many things might be tried, of a drying 
nature." 

" Let her try a certain person's pamphlets," said Mrs. Cad- 
wallader in an undertone, seeing the gentlemen enter, "//e 
does not want drying." 

" Who, my dear ? " said Lady Cliettam, a charming woman, 
not so quick as to nullify the pleasure of explanation. 

" The bridegroom — Casaubon. He has certainly been dry- 
ing up faster since the engagement : the flame of passion, I 
suppose." 

" I should think he is far from having a good constitution," 
said Lady Chettam, witli a still deeper undertone. "And 
then his studies — so very dry, as you say." 

" Really, by the side of Sir James, he looks like a death's 
head skinned over for the occasion. Mark my words : in a 
year from this time that girl will hate him. She looks up to 
Kim as an oracle now, and by-and-by she will be at the other 
extreme. All flightiness ! " 

"How very shocking! I fear she is headstrong. But 
tell me — you know all about him — is there anything very 
bad ? What is the truth ? " 



94 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" The truth ? he is as bad as the wrong physic — nasty to 
take, and sure to disagree." 

" There could 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 
disadvantages. " However, James will hear nothing against 
Miss Brooke. He says she is the mirror of women still." 

" That is a generous make-believe of his. Depend upon it, 
he likes little Celia better, and she appreciates him. I hope 
you like my little Celia ?" 

'^ Certainly ; 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. Lydgate. 
I am told he is wonderfully clever : he certainly looks it — a 
fine brow indeed." 

" He is a gentleman. I heard him talking to Humphrey. 
He talks well." 

" Yes. Mr. Brooke says he is one of the Lydgates of North- 
unjberland, really well connected. One does not expect it in 
a practitioner of that kind. Eor my own part, I like a medi- 
cal man more on a footing with the servants ; they are often 
all the cleverer. I assure you I found poor Hicks's judgment 
unfailing ; I never knew him wrong. He was coarse and 
butcher-like, but he knew my constitution. It was a loss to 
me his going off so suddenly. Dear me, what a very ani- 
mated conversation Miss Brooke seems to be having with this 
Mr. Lydgate ! " 

" She is talking cottages and hospitals with him/' said Mrs. 
Cadwallader, whose ears and power of interpretation were 
rpiick. "I believe he is a sort of philanthropist, so Brooke is 
sure to take him up." 

"James," said Lady Chettam when her son came near, 
" bring Mr. Lydgate and introduce him to me. I want to te. t 
him." 

The affable dowager declared herself delighted with this 
opportunity of making Mr. Lydgate's acquaintance, having 
heard of his success in treating fever on a new plan. 

Mr. Lydgate had the medical accomplishment of looking 



MISS BROOKE. 95 

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 and utterance. 
Yet Lady Chettam gathered much confidence in him. He con- 
firmed her 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 not approve of a too lowering system, includ- 
ing reckless cupping, nor, on the other hand, of incessant port- 
wine and bark. He said " I think so " with an air of so 
much deference 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 away. 

" My protege ? — dear me ! — who is that ? " said Mr. 
Brooke. 

"This young Lydgate, the new doctor. He seems to me to 
understand his profession admirably." 

" Oh, Lydgate ! he is not mj 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 Brous- 
sais ; has ideas, you know — wants to raise the profession." 

'^ Lydgate has lots of ideas, quite new, about ventilation 
and diet, that sort of thing," resumed INIr. Brooke, after he 
had handed out Lady Chettam, and had returned to be civil 
to a group of Middlemarchers. 

" Hang it, do you think that is quite sound ? — upsetting 
the old treatment, which has made Englishmen what they 
are ? " said Mr. Standish. 

" Medical knowledge is at a low ebb among us," said Mr. 
Bulstrode, who spoke in a subdued tone, and had rather a sickly 
air. " I, for my part, hail the advent of Mr. Lydgate. I hope 
to find good reason for confiding the 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 



96 MIDDLEMARCH. 

I have no objection. But I am not going to hand money 
out of my purse to have experiments tried on me. I like 
treatment that has been tested a little."' 

'• Well, you know. Standish, every dose you take is an ex- 
periment — an experiment, you know,"" said Mr. Brooke, nod- 
ding 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. Yincy, 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 expres- 
sion myself."' 

Mr. Lydgate, of course, was out of hearing. He 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 
women. They are always wanting reasons, yet they are too 
ignorant to understand the merits of any question, and usually 
fall back on their moral sense to settle things after their own 
taste.'' 

Evidently Miss Brooke was not Mr. Lydgate's style of wo- 
man any more than Mr. Chichely's. Considered, indeed, in 
relation to the latter, whose mind was matured, she was alto- 
gether a mistake, and calculated to shock his trust in final 
causes, including the adaptation of fine young women to purple- 
faced bachelors. But Lydgate was less ripe, and might pos- 
sibly have experience before him which would modify his 
opinion as to the most excellent things in woman. 



MISS BROOKE. 97 

Miss Brooke, 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 Kome. 



CHAPTER XI. 



And persons such as comedy would choose, 
When she would show an image of tlie times, 
And sport with human follies, not with crimes. 

Ben Jonson. 

Lydgate, in fact, was already conscious of being fascinated 
by a woman strikingly different from ]\Iiss 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 what a 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 inves- 
tigated by science. But Bosamond 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 made. He 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 volumi- 
nous notes, and had made that sort of reputation which pre- 
cedes performance, — often the larger part of a man's fame. 
He took a wife, as we have seen, to adorn the remaining quad- 
rant of his course, and be a little moon that would cause 

VOT,. VII. 7 



98 MIDDLEMARCH. 

hardly a calculable perturbation. But Lydgate was young, 
poor, ambitious. He had his 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 cir- 
cumstances, 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, not- 
withstanding her undeniable beauty. She did not look at 
things from the proper feminine angle. The society 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. 

Certainly nothing at present could seem much less impor- 
tant to Lydgate than the turn of Miss Brooke's mind, or to 
Miss Brooke than the qualities of the woman w^ho had at- 
tracted this young surgeon. But 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 calcu- 
lated irony on the indifference or the frozen stare with which 
we look at our unintroduced neighbor. Destiny stands by 
sarcastic with our dramatis personm folded in her hand. 

Old provincial society had its share of this subtle move- 
ment: 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 conscious- 
ness 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 conse- 
quence ; while a few personages or families that stood with 
rocky firmness amid all this fluctuation, were slowly present- 
ing new aspects in spite of solidity, and altering with the 



MISS BROOKE. 99 

double change of self and beholder. Municipal 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 acquain- 
tanceship. 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 move- 
ment and mixture went on in old England as we find in older 
Herodotus, who also, in telling wdiat had been, thought it well 
to take a woman's lot for his starting-point ; though lo, as 
a maiden apparently beguiled by attractive merchandise, was 
the reverse of Miss Brooke, and in this respect perhaps bore 
more resemblance to Kosamond Yincy, who had excellent 
taste in costume, with that nymph-like figure and pure blond- 
ness 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 in- 
cluded 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 ex- 
ample : no pupil, she said, exceeded that young lady for men- 
tal 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 first vision of Kosamond would 
have been enough with most judges to dispel any prejudice 
excited by Mrs. Lemon's praise. 

Lydgate could not be long in jVIiddlemarch 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 and acquaint- 
ances. For who of any consequence in Middlemarch was not 



100 MIDDLEMARCH. 

connected or at least acquainted with the Vincys ? They were 
old manufacturers, and had kept a good house for three gener- 
ations, in which there had naturally been much intermarrying 
with neighbors more or less decidedly genteel. 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 inn- 
keeper's daughter. But 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 affectigns of the widower. And it happened that Mr. Bul- 
strode and Mr. Featherstone, two of Peacock's most impor- 
tant patients, had, from different causes, given an especially 
good reception to his successor, who had raised some partisan- 
ship 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 were frequent. Mr. Vincy was more inclined to gen- 
eral good-fellowship than to taking sides, but there was no 
need for him to be hasty in making any new man's acquaint- 
ance. Bosamond silently wished that her father would invite 
Mr. Lydgate. She was tired 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 well-spread table. 

That table often remained covered with the relics of the 
family breakfast long after Mr. Vincy had gone with his second 



MISS BROOKE. 101 

son to the warehouse, and when Miss Morgan was already far 
on in morning lessons with the younger girls in the school- 
room. It awaited the family laggard, who found any sort of 
inconvenience (to others) less disagreeable than getting up 
when he was called. This was the case one morning of the 
October in which we have lately seen ]\Ir. 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, slie 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 ten." 

This was said without any cliange 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 cap- 
strings, she let her work rest on her lap, while she looked 
admiringly at her daughter. 

'' Mamma," said Rosamond, " when Fred comes down I wish 
you would not let liim have red herrings. I cannot bear the 
smell of them all over the house at this hour of the morning." 

*' Oh, my dear, you are so hard on your brothers ! It is the 
only fault I have to find with you. You are the sweetest 
temper in the world, but you are so tetchy with your 
brothers." 

"Not tetchy, mamma: you never hear me speak in an un- 
ladylike way." 

" Well, but you want to deny them things." 

" Brothers are so unpleasant." 

"Oh, my dear, you must allow for young men. Be thankful 
if they have good hearts. A woman must learn to put up with 
little things. You will be married some dav." 



102 MIDDLEMARCH. 

^^ Xot to any one who is like Fred." 

" Don't decry your own brother, my dear. Few young men 
■^mve less against them, although he could n'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 
because he is not Fred." 

" Oh no, mamma, only because he is Bob." 

"Well, my dear, you will not find any Middlemarch young 
man who has not something against him." 

'•'But" — here liosamond's face broke into a smile which 
suddenly revealed two dimples. She herself thought unfavor- 
ably of these dimples and smiled little in general society. 
" But I shall not marry any Middlemarch young man." 

" 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." 

"Excuse me, mamma — I wish you would not say, 'the pick 
of them.' " 

" Why, what else are they ? " 

" I mean, mamma, it is rather a vulgar expression." 

" Very likely, my dear ; I never was a good speaker. What 
should I say ? " 

" The best of them." 

" AVhy, that seems just as plain and common. If I had had 
time to think, I should have said, ' the most superior young 
men.' But with your education you must know." 

" What must 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 
slippers. 

" Whether it 's right to say ' superior young men,' " said 
Mrs. Vincy, ringing the bell. 

" Oh, there are so many superior teas and sugars now. Supe- 
rior is getting to be shopkeepers' slang." 



MISS BROOKE. 103 

" Are you beginning to dislike slang, then ? " said Rosamond, 
with mild gravity. 

"Only the wrong sort. All choice of words is slang. It 
marks a class." 

"There is correct English : that is not slang." 

" 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 of poets." 

" You will say anything, Fred, to gain your point." 

" Well, tell me whether it is slang or poetry to call an ox a 
leg-jjlalterJ^ 

"Of course you can call it poetry if you like." 

" Aha, Miss 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 separate." 

" Dear me, how amusing it is to liear young people talk ! " 
said Mrs. Vincy, with cheerful admiration. 

"Have you got nothing else for my breakfast, Pritchard ? " 
said Fred, to the servant who brought in coifee and buttered 
toast ; while he walked round the table snrveying the ham, 
potted beef, and other cold remnants, with an air of silent re- 
jection, and polite forbearance from signs of disgust. 

" Should you like eggs, sir ? " 

" Eggs, no ! Bring me a grilled bone." 

"Really, Fred," said Rosamond, when the servant had left 
the room, "if you must have hot things for breakfast, 1 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 mornings." 

" That is your want of understanding, Rosy. I can get up 
to go hunting because I like it." 

"What would you think of me if I came down two hours 
after every one else and ordered grilled bone ? " 

" I should 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 disagree- 
able, any more than sisters." 

" I don't make myself disagreeable ; it is you who find me 



104 MIDDLEMARCH. 

so. Disagreeable is a word that describes your feelings and 
not my actions." 

"I think it describes the smell of grilled bone." 

" Not at all. It describes a sensation in your little nose as- 
sociated with certain finicking notions which are the classics of 
Mrs. Lemon's school. Look at my mother : you don't see her 
objecting to everything except wliat she does herself. She is 
my notion of a pleasant woman." 

"Bless you both, my dears, and don't quarrel," said Mrs. 
Vincy, with motherly cordiality. "Come, Tred, tell us all 
about the new doctor. How is your uncle pleased with him ? " 

'Pretty well, I think. He asks Lydgate all sorts of ques- 
tions and then screws up his face while lie 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 your uncle's." 

" Oh, I dined at Plymdale's. We had whist. Lydgate 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." 

"Yes," said Fred. "There was a Lydgate at John's who 
spent no end of money. I find this man is a second cousin of 
his. But rich men may have very poor devils for second 
cousins." 

" It always makes a difference, though, to be of good fam- 
ily," said Eosamond, with a tone of decision which showed that 
she had thought on this subject. Eosamond 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." 



MISS BROOKE. 105 

" Oh, tallish, dark, clever — talks well — rather a prig, I 
think." 

"1 never can make out what you mean by a prig," said 
Kosamond. 

" A fellow who wants to show that he has opinions." 

*^ Why, my dear, doctors must have opinions," said Mrs. 
Viucy. " What are they there for else ? " 

" Yes, mother, the opinions they are paid for. But a 
prig is a fellow who is always making you a present of his 
opinions." 

'' I suppose Mary Garth admires INIr. Lydgate," said Rosa- 
mond, not without a touch of innuendo. 

" Keally, I can't say," said Fred, rather glumly, as he left the 
table, and taking up a novel wliich he had brouglit down with 
him, threw himself into an arm-chair. " If you are jealous 
of her, go oftener to Stone Court yourself and eclipse her." 

" 1 wish you would not be so vulgar, Fred. If you have 
finished, pray ring the bell." 

" 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 have n'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 good. And now it stands to reason that your uncle 
Featherstone will do something for Mary Garth." 

" Mary Garth can bear being at Stone Court, because she 
likes that better than being a governess," said 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 com- 
plaint, let us hope there is something better for him in another. 
And I have no ill-will towards Mary Garth, but there 's justice 
to be thought of. And Mr. Featherstone's first wife brought 
him no money, as my sister did. Her nieces and nephews 



106 MTDDLEMARCH. 

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." 

" Every one would not agree with you there, mother," said 
Fred, who seemed to be able to read and listen too. 

"Well, my 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 
way. But I shall leave you to your studies, my dear j for I 
must go and do some shopping." 

" Fred's studies are not very deep," said Kosamond, rising 
with her mamma, " he is only reading a novel." 

"Well, well, by-and-by he'll go to his Latin and things," 
said Mrs. Vincy, soothingly, stroking her son's head. " There 's 
a fire in the smoking-room on purpose. It 's your 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 degree." 

Fred drew his mother's hand down to his lips, but said 
nothing. 

" I suppose you are not going out riding to-day ? " said 
Eosamond, lingering a little after her mamma was gone. 

"No; why?" 

" Papa says I may have the chestnut to ride now." 

" You can go with me to-morrow, if you like. Only I am 
going to Stone Court, remember." 

" I want to ride so much, it is indifferent to me where we 
go." Eosamond really wished to go to Stone Court, of all 
other places. 

"Oh, I say, Eosy," 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 morning.'* 

" Why not this morning ? " 

"Eeally, Fred, I wish you would leave off playing the flute. 
A man looks very silly playing the flute. And you play so 
out of tune." 

" When next any one makes love to you. Miss Eosamond, I 
will tell him how obliging you are." 



MISS BROOKE. 107 

'- Why yhould you expect me to oblige you by heariug you 
play the flute, any more than I should expect you to oblige 
me by not playing it ? " 

" And why should you expect me to take you out riding ? " 

This question led to an adjustment, for ilosamond 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," and other favorite airs 
from his " Instructor on the Flute ; " a wheezy performance, 
into which he threw much ambition and an irrepressible 
hopefulness. 



CHAPTER XII. 

He had more tow on his distaffe 
Than Gerveis knew. 

Chaucer. 

The ride to Stone Court, which Fred and Rosamond took 
the next morning, lay through a pretty bit of midland land- 
scape, almost ail meadows and pastures, with hedgerows still 
allowed to grow in bushy beauty and to spread out coral fruit 
for the birds. Little details gave each field a particular physi- 
ognomy, dear to the eyes that have looked on them from child- 
hood : 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 won- 
drous modulations of light and shadow such as we travel far 
to see in later life, and see larger, but not more beautiful. 
These are the things that make the gamut of joy in landscape 



108 MIDDLEMARCH. 

to midland-bred souls — the things they toddled among, or 
perhaps learned by heart standing between their father's 
knees while he drove leisurely. 

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 Rosa- 
mond 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 unex- 
pected 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 not the less agreeable 
an object in the distance for the cluster of pinnacled corn-ricks 
which balanced tho line row of walnuts on the right. 

Presently it was possible to discern something that might 
be a gig on the circular drive before the front door. 

"Dear me," said Rosamond, "I hope none of my uncle's 
horrible relations are there." 

"They are, though. That is Mrs. Waule's gig — the last 
yellow gig left, I should think. When I see Mrs. Waule in it, 
I understand how yellow can have been worn for mourning. 
That gig seems to me more funereal than a hearse. But then 
Mrs. Waule always has black crape on. How does she manage 
it. Rosy ? Her friends can't always be dying." 

" .1 don't know at all. And she is not in the least evangeli- 
cal," said Rosamond, reflectively, as if that religious point of 
view would have fully accounted for perpetual crape. " And 
not poor," she added, after a moment's pause. 

"' No, by George ! They are as rich as Jews, those Waules 
and Featherstones ; I mean, for people like them, who don't 
want to spend anything. And 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 all." 

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, muf- 
fled, neutral tone, as of a voice heard through cotton wool) 



MISS BROOKE. 109 

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 yon driving at there?" said ]\Ir. Featherstone, 
liolding 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. 

"The doctors can't master that cough, brother. It's 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." 

" Tchah ! you said nothing o' the sort. You said somebody 
had made free with my name." 

" And no more than can be proved, if what everybody says 
is true. My brother 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 Vincy is not a clodhopper. If 
your son John took to billiards, now, he 'd make a fool of 
himself." 

" Your nephew 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 some- 
where 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 sav Mr. Bulstrode condemns Mrs. 



110 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Vincy beyond anything for her flightiness, and spoiling her 
children so.'* 

" What 's Bulstrode to me ? I don't bank with him." 

" Well, Mrs. 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 unbecoming. But indulging your chil- 
dren 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 Garth hears me, and is welcome to tell again. I know 
young people hang together." 

" No, thank you, Mrs. W^aule," said Mary Garth. " I dis- 
like hearing scandal too much to wish to repeat it." 

Mr. 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 — 

" And who pretends to say Fred Vincy has n't got expec- 
tations ? Such a fine, 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. 

" Whether or 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 the^n. 
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 
moderation. 

"Come, out 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, eh ? " 



MISS BROOKE. Ill 

''1 never said so, brother" (Mrs. Waiile'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." 

" Stuff and nonsense ! I don't believe a word of it. It 's 
all a got-up story. Go to the window, missy ; I thought I 
heard a horse. See 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 Solomon 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. 

Before Mr. Featherstone's cough was quiet, Eosamond en- 
tered, 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. 

" Heyday, miss ! " he said at last, " you have a fine color. 
Where 's Fred ? " 

" Seeing about the horses. He will be in presently." 

" Sit down, sit down. Mrs. 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 cere- 
mony wnth which lie marked his sense of blood-relationship. 
Indeed, she herself was accustomed to think that entire free- 
dom from the necessity of behaving agreeably was included in 
the Almighty's intentions about families. She rose slowly 



112 xMIDDLEMARCH. 

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 oAvn 
sister and your own nieces, if you 'd only say the word. 
There 's Kebecca, 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 nest. Good-by, 
Mrs. Waule." 

Here Mr. Featherstone pulled at both sides of his wig as if 
he wanted to deafen himself, and his sister went away rumi- 
nating 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 die had gained so much by manganese and things, turn- 
ing up when nobody expected it ? — and why w^as 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 human mind has at no period accepted 
a moral chaos ; and so preposterous a result was not strictly 
conceivable. But w^e are frightened at much that is not 
strictl}^ conceivable. 

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 appearance. 

" You two misses go away," said Mr. Featherstone. " I 
want to speak to Fred." 



MISS BROOKE. 



113 



^•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 (:\i:ary as an articled pupil), so that 
they had many memories in common, and liked very well 
to talk in private. Indeed, this tete-a-tete was one of Rosa- 
mond's objects in coming to Stone Court. 

Old 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, w^hich might be taken for that of an informer 
ready to be bought off, rather than for the tone of an offended 
senior. He was not a man to feel any strong moral indigna- 
tion even on account of trespasses against himself. It was 
natural that others should want to get an advantage over him, 
but then, he was a little too canning for them. 

<' So, sir, 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 twelvemonth, say. 
But I can alter my will yet." 

Fred blushed. He had not borrowed money in that way, 
for excellent reasons. 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 present debts. 

" I don't know what you refer to, sir. I have certainly 
never borrowed any money on such an insecurity. Please to 
explain." 

" No, sir, it 's you must explain. I can alter my will yet, 
let me tell you. I 'm 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 under 
eighty. I say, you must contradict this story." 

" I have contradicted it, sir," Fred answered, wath 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 Feather- 

VOL. VII. 8 



114 MIDDLEMARCH. 

stone, who often wondered that so many fools took his own 
assertions for i^roofs. "But I contradict it again. The story 
is a silly lie." 

'' Nonsense ! you must bring dockiments. It comes from 
authority." 

" Name the authority, and make him name the man of 
whom 1 borrowed the money, and then I can disprove the 
story." 

"It's pretty good authority, I think — a man who knows 
most of what goes on in Middlemarch. It's that fine, re- 
ligious, charitable uncle o' yours. Come now ! " Here Mr. 
Featherstone had his peculiar inward shake which signified 
merriment. 

" Mr. Bulstrode ? " 

" Who else, eh ? " 

"Then the story has grown into this lie out of some sermon- 
izing 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, supposing you only tried to get the money lent, 
and did n't get it — Bulstrode 'ud know that too. You bring 
me a writing from Bulstrode to say he does n't believe you 've 
ever promised to pay your debts out o' my land. Come 
now ! " 

Mr. Featherstone's face required its whole scale of grimaces 
as a muscular outlet to his silent triumph in the soundness of 
his faculties. 

Fred felt himself to be in a disgusting dilemma. 

" You inust be joking, sir. Mr. Bulstrode, like other men, 
believes scores of things that are not true, and he has a preju- 
dice 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 unpleasantness. Bat 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. 



MISS BROOKE. 115 

" Ay, I know what you mean. You 'd sooner offend me 
than Bulstrode. And what 's he ? — he 's got no land here- 
about that ever I heard tell of. A speckilating fellow ! 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 nonsense ! There '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 land. He promises 
land, and He gives land, and He makes chaps rich with corn 
and cattle. But 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 whip. " I 
like neither Bulstrode nor speculation." He spoke rather 
sulkily, feeling himself stalemated. 

" Well, well, you can do without me, that 's pretty clear," 
said old Featherstone, secretly disliking the possibility that 
Fred would show himself at all independent. " You neither 
want a bit of land to make a squire of you instead of a starv- 
ing 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." 

Fred colored again. Featherstone 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 ungrateful, sir. I never meant to show disregard 
for any kind intentions you might have towards me. On the 
contrary." 

" Very good. Then prove it. You bring me a letter from 
Bulstrode saying he does n'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 '11 see if I can't back 
you a bit. Come now ! That 's a bargain. Here, give me 
your arm. I '11 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 



116 MIDDLEMARCII. 

walking. While 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, Cul- 
pepper, Klopstock's " Messiah," and several volumes of the 
'• Gentleman's Magazine." 

"Eead me the names o' the books. Come now! you're a 
college man." 

Fred gave him the titles. 

" What did missy want with more books ? What must you 
be bringing her more books for ? " 

" They amuse 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 put 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 and not bring her any 
more books, do you hear ? " 

"Yes, sir, I hear." Fred had received this order before, 
and had secretly disobeyed it. He intended to disobey it 
again. 

"Ring the bell," said Mr. Featherstone; "I want missy to 
come down." 

Rosamond and Mary had been talking faster than their 
male friends. They did not 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 yellow. Mary Garth seemed all the plainer stand- 
ing 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 few children in Middle- 
march looked blond by the side of Rosamond, and the slim 



MISS BROOKE. 117 

figure displayed by her riding-habit had delicate undulations. 
In fact, most men in Middlemarch, except her 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 tempta- 
tions 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 tine veracity and fitness 
in the phrase. At the age of tvvo-and-twenty Mary had cer- 
tainly 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 required. Her 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. Ad- 
vancing 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 headgear- Eembrandt 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 unbecoming companion." 

" Oh no ! No one thinks of your appearance, you are so 
sensible and useful, Mary. Beauty is of very little conse- 
quence in reality," said Rosamond, turning her head towards 



118 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Mary, but with eyes swerving towards the new view of her 
neck in the glass. 

'' You mean my beauty," said Mary, rather sardonically. 

Eosamond thought, "Poor Mary, she takes the kindest 
things ill." Aloud she said, "What have you been doing 
lately ? " 

" I ? Oh, minding the house — pouring out syrup — pre- 
tending to be amiable and contented — learning to have a bad 
opinion of everybody." 

" It is a wretched life for you." 

" No," said Mar}^, 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." 

" She is interesting to herself, I suppose ; and I am not at 
all sure that everything gets easier as one gets older." 

"No," said Eosamond, retiectively ; "one wonders what 
such people do, wdthout any prospect. To be sure, there is 
religion as a support. But," she added, dimpling, " it is very 
different with yon, Mary. You may have an offer." 

" Has any one told 3^ou he means to make me one ? " 

" Of course not. I mean, there is a gentleman who may 
fall in love with yon, seeing you almost every day." 

A certain change in Mary^s face was chiefly determined by 
the resolve not to show any change. 

"Does that always make people fall in love ? " she answered, 
carelessly ; " it seems to me quite as often a reason for detest- 
ing each other." 

" Not when they are interesting and agreeable. I hear that 
Mr. Lydgate is both." 

" Oh, Mr. Lydgate ! " said Mary, with an unmistakable lapse 
into indifference. "You want to know something about him," 
she added, not choosing to indulge Eosamond's indirectness. 

" Merely, how you like him." 

" There is no question of liking at present. My liking al- 
ways wants some little kindness to kindle it. I am not mag- 
nanimous enough to like people who speak to me without 
seeming to see me." 



MISS BROOKE. 119 

"Is lie so haughty ? " said Kosamond, with heightened satis- 
faction. '' You know that he is of good family ? " 

" Xo ; he did not give that as a reason." 

"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 eyebrows, 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 him. You 
know this is about the time of his visits." 

Eosamond 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 tovs 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, Kosy." 

" Haughtiness is not conceit ; I call Fred conceited." 

" I wish no one said any worse of him. He 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 asso- 
ciated with the word " unsteady " which she hoped Rosamond 
might say something to dissipate. But she purposely abstained 
from mentioning Mrs. Waule's more special insinuation. 

" Oh, Fred is horrid ! " said Rosamond. She 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, Mary ? I thought you 
had more sense of religion." 

" He is not ht to be a clergyman." 

" 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 case." 



120 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"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 one." 

" But when papa has been at the expense of educating him 
for it ! And only suppose, if he should have no fortune left 
him ? " 

" I can suppose that very well," said Mary, dryly. 

" Then I wonder you can defend Fred," said Eosamond, in- 
clined to push this point. 

" I don't defend him," said Mary, laughing ; " I would defend 
any parish from having him for a clergyman." 

"But of course if he were a clergyman, he must be dif- 
ferent." 

"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 part." 

" Why should I not take his part ? " said Mary, lighting up. 
"He would take mine. He is the only person who takes the 
least trouble to oblige me." 

" You make me feel very uncomfortable, Mary," said Eosa- 
mond, with her gravest mildness ; " I would not tell mamma 
for the world." 

" What would you not tell her ? " said Mary, angrily. 

"Pray do not go into a rage, Mary," said Eosamond, 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 aware. He certainly never 
has asked me." 

" Mary, you are always so violent." 

" And you are always so exasperating." 

"I ? What can you blame me for ? " 

" Oh, blameless people are always the most exasperating. 
There is the bell — I think we must go down." 

"I did not mean to quarrel," said Eosamond, putting on 
her hat. 

"Quarrel? Nonsense; we have not quarrelled. If one is 



MISS BROOKE. 121 

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 hav- 
ing repeated. But let us go down." 

Mr. Lydgate 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 hard-headed old 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. 

Mr. 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 window. 

His dull 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. Kothing escaped Lydgate in Rosa- 
mond'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 inter- 
est, 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 of temper. 

"Miss Rosy has been singing me a song — you've nothing 
to say against that, eh, doctor ? " said Mr. Featherstone. " I 
like it better than your physic." 

" That has made me forget how the time w^as going," said 
Rosamond, rising to reach her hat, wdiicli she had laid aside 
before singing, so that her flower-like head on its white stem 



122 MIDDLEMARCH. 

was seen in perfection above her riding-habit. " Fred, we 
must really go." 

" Very good," 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. 
8he was by nature an actress of parts that entered into her 
loliysiquG : she even acted her ow^n 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. Feather- 
stone, "let the next be w^ho she w^ill. Eh, Fred? Speak up 
for your sister." 

" I 'm afraid I 'm out of court, sir. My evidence would be 
good for nothing." 

" Middlemarch has not a very high standard, uncle," said 
Rosamond, with a pretty lightness, going towards her whip, 
wliich lay at a distance. 

Lydgate was quick in anticipating her. He reached the 
whip before she did, and turned to present it to her. She 
bowed 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 that, she was really anxious to go, and did not know 
what sort of stupidity her uncle was talking of w^hen she went 
to shake hands with him. 

Yet this result, which she took to be a mutual impression, 
called falling in love, was just what Rosamond had contem- 
plated beforehand. Ever since that important new arrival in 
Middlemarch she had woven a little future, of which some- 
thing like this scene was the necessary beginning. Strangers, 
whether wrecked and clinging to a raft, or duly escorted and 
accompanied by portmanteaus, have always ]iad a circumstan- 
tial fascination for the virgin mind, against Avhich native merit 
lias urged itself in vain. And a stranger Avas absolutely neces- 
sary to Rosiimond's social romance, which had always turned 



MISS BROOKE. 123 

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 awak- 
ening 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, and why not by the morning light, 
when the complexion showed all the better for it ? Rosamond, 
though no older than Mary, was rather used to being fallen 
ill love with ; but she, for her part, had remained indifferent 
and fastidiously critical towards both fresh sprig and faded 
bachelor. And here was Mr. Lydgate suddenly corresponding 
to her ideal, being altogether foreign to Middlemarch, carry- 
ing a certain air of distinction congruous with good family, 
and possessing connections Avhich 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 fancied " might-be " 
such as she was in the habit of opposing to the actual. 

Thus, in riding home, both the brother and the sister were 
preoccupied and inclined to be silent. Rosamond, whose 
basis for her structure had the usual airy slightness, was of 
remarkably detailed and realistic imagination when the foun- 
dation had been once presupposed ; and before they had rid- 
den 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. 



124 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Fred's mind, on the other hand, was busy with an anxiety 
which even his ready hopefulness could not immediately quell. 
He saw no way of eluding Featherstone's stupid demand with- 
out 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 report. Fred felt that he 
made a wretched figure as a fellow who bragged about expecta- 
tions from a queer old miser like Featherstone, and went to 
beg for certificates at his bidding. But — those expectations ! 
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 
magnificent. 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 bit- 
terness. To be born 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 Bul- 
strode'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 
j^ower by tormenting him a little, and also probably to get 
some satisfaction out of seeing him on unpleasant terms with 
Bulstrode. Fred fancied that he saw to the bottom of his uncle 
Featherstone's soul, though in reality half what he saw there 
was no more than the reflex of his own inclinations. The diffi- 
cult task of knowing another soul is not for young gentleinen 
whose consciousness is chiefly made up of their own wishes. 



MISS BROOKE. 125 

Fred's main 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 Eosamond, it would be sure to reach his 
father, who would as surely question him about it. He said 
to Eosamond, as they slackened their pace — 

"Eosy, did Mary tell you that Mrs. Waule had said any- 
tliing about me ? " 

" Yes, indeed, she did." 

"What?" 

" That you were very unsteady." 

" Was that all ? " 

"I should think that was enough, Fred." 

" You are sure she said no more ? " 

" Mary mentioned nothing else. But reall}' , Fred, I think 
you ought to be ashamed." 

" 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 you are too rude to allow me to speak." 

"Of course I care what Mary says. She is the best girl 
I know." 

" I should 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." 

" At least, Fred, let me advise you not to fall in love with 
her, for she says she would not marry you if you asked her." 

" She might have waited till I did ask her." 

"I knew it would nettle you, Fred." 

"jSTot 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 Bulstrode. 



BOOK 11. 

OLD AND YOUNG. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

1st Gent. How class your man ? — as better than the most. 

Or, seemiug better, Avorse beneath that cloak ? 

As saint or knave, pilgrim or hypocrite ? 
2c? Gent. Nay, tell me how you class your wealth of books. 

The drifted relics of all time. As Avell 

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 unread authors. 

In consequence 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 
pauses. Do 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 large forehead. 
Loud men called his subdued tone an undertone, and some- 
times 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 



OLD AND YOUNG. 127 

in the lungs. Mr. 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 improve- 
ment from their discourse. Others, who expected to make no 
great figure, disliked this kind of moral lantern turned on 
them. If 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 joys are reserved for con- 
scious merit. Hence Mr. 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 present visitor, 
Lydgate, the scrutinizing look was a matter of indifference: 
he simply formed an unfavorable opinion of the banker's con- 
stitution, 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 object." 

" There are few things better worth the pains in a provin- 
cial town like this," said Lydgate. " A fine fever hospital in 
addition to the old infirmary might be the nucleus of a medi- 
cal 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 Avho 
has a grain of public spirit as well as a few ideas, should do 



128 MIDDLEMARCH. 

what he can to resist the rush of everything that is a little 
better than common towards London. Any valid profes- 
sional aims may often find a freer, if not a richer field, in the 
provinces.'' 

One of Lydgate's gifts was a voice habitually deep and sono- 
rous, 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 experience. 
But 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. 

"I shall rejoice to furnish your zeal with fuller opportuni- 
ties," 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 dis- 
like 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 every- 
where else." 

"The standard 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 townspeople here. My own 



OLD AND YOUNG. 129 

imperfect health has induced me to give some attention to 
those palliative resources which the divine mercy has placed 
within our reach. I 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 practitioner. 
As to all the higher questions which determine the starting- 
point of a diagnosis — as to the philosophy of medical 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." 

Mr. Bulstrode, bending and looking intently, found the form 
which Lydgate had given to his agreement not quite suited to 
his comprehension. Under such 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 material means. 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 me. You recognize, 
I hope, the existence of spiritual interests in your patients ? " 

" Certainly I do. But 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 point which I have much at 
heart to secure is a new regulation as to clerical attendance at 
the old infirmary. The building stands in jNIr. Farebrother's 
parish. You know Mr. Farebrother ? " 

" I have seen him. He gave me his vote. I must call to 
thank him. He seems a very bright pleasant little fellow. 
And I understand he is a naturalist." 

" Mr. Farebrother, my dear sir, is a man deeply painful to 
contemplate. I suppose there is not a clergyman in this coun- 
try who has greater talents." Mr. Bulstrode paused and 
looked meditative. 

VOL. VII, 9 



130 MIDDLEMARCH. 

'• I have not yet been pained by finding any excessive talent 
in Middlemarch," said Lydgate, bluntly. 

" What I desire," Mr. Bulstrode continued, looking still 
more serious, "is that Mr. Farebrother's attendance at the 
hospital should be superseded by the appointment of a chap- 
lain — of Mr. Tyke, in fact — and that no other spiritual aid 
should be called in." 

"As a medical 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 circumspect. 

" 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 co-operation 
between us which I now look forward to, you will not, so far 
as you are concerned, be influenced by my opponents in this 
matter." 

" I hope I shall have nothing to do Avith clerical disputes," 
said Lydgate. " The path I have chosen is to work well in 
ni}^ own profession." 

" My responsibility, Mr. Lydgate, is of a broader kind. 
With me, indeed, this question is one of sacred accountable- 
ness ; whereas with my opponents, I have good reason to say 
that it is an occasion for gratifying a spirit of worldly opposi- 
tion. But I shall not therefore drop one iota of my convic- 
tions, or cease to identify myself with that truth which an 
evil generation hates. I have devoted 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 mor- 
tal diseases. I have another ground of action, and in the face 
of persecution I will not conceal it." 

Mr. Bulstrode's voice had become a loud and agitated whis- 
per as he said the last words. 

*' There we certainly differ," said Lydgate. But he was 
not sorry that the door was now opened, and Mr. Vincy was 



OLD AND YOUNG. 131 

announced. That florid sociable personage was become more 
interesting to him since he had seen Kosamond. Xot 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 
again. Before he took leave, Mr. Vincy had given that invita- 
tion which he had been " in no hurry about," for Rpsamond at 
breakfast had mentioned that she thought her uncle Feather- 
stone had taken the new doctor into great favor. 

Mr. Bulstrode, alone with his brother-in-law, poured himself 
out a glass of water, and opened a sandwich-box. 

" I cannot persuade you to adopt my regimen, Vincy ? " 

"No, no ; I 've no opinion of that system. Life wants pad- 
ding," 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." 

"Tliat is a subject on which you and I are likely to take 
quite as different views as on diet, Vincy." 

"I hope not this time." (Mr. Vincy was resolved to be 
good-humored.) " The fact is, it 's about a whim of old Feath- 
erstone'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 hand- 
some for him ; indeed he has as good as told Fred that he 
means to leave him his land, and that makes other people 
jealous." 

" 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. Bul- 
strode rarely shrank from, but Mr. Vincy was not equally pre- 
pared to be patient. "When a man has the immediate prospect 



132 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 back- 
ground. And this particular reproof irritated him more than 
any other. It was eminently superfluous to him to be told 
that he w^as reaping the consequences. But he felt his neck 
under Bulstrode's yoke ; and though he usually enjoyed kick- 
ing, he was anxious to refrain from that relief. 

" 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 could n't 
foresee everything in the trade ; there was n'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 time. I think I was 
justified in what I tried to do for Fred. If you come to re- 
ligion, it seems to me a man should n't ^vant 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 opinion, it 's a 
father's duty to give his sons a fine chance." 

"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 folly." 

" Very well," 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 princi- 
ples. The only difference I see is that one w^orldliness is a 
little bit honester than another." 

"This kind of discussion is 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 



OLD AND YOUNG. 133 

his land. Of course you never said any such nonsense. But 
the ohi 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 wa}'. I suppose 
you can have no objection to do that." 

" Pardon me. I have an objection. 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 world." 

"But Fred gives me his honor that he has never borrowed 
money on the pretence of any understanding about his uncle's 
land. He is not a liar. I don't want to make him better than 
he is. I 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 3'Oung 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 believe." 

"I am not at all sure that I should be befriending your son 
by smoothing his way to the future possession of Feather- 
stone's property. I cannot regard 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 fur- 
thering such a disposition of property as that which you refer 
to. I do not shrink from saying that it will not 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 ob- 
ject 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 part- 



134 MIDDLEMARCH. 

nerships, that 's all T can say," Mr. Vincy burst out very 
bluntly. "It 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 tlie 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 1 
chose." 

Mr. Bulstrode paused a little before he answered. " You 
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 intri- 
cacies 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 
family. I must remind you that it is not your own prudence 
or judgment that has enabled you to keep your place in the 
trade." 

"Very likely 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 up. I take the world as I find it, in trade and every- 
thing else. I 'm contented to be no worse than my neighbors. 
But if you want us to come down in the world, say so. I 
shall know better what to do then." 

" You talk unreasonably. Shall you come down in the 
world for want of this letter about your son?" 

" Well, whether 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 



OLD AND YOUNG. 135 

might as well slander Fred : it comes pretty near to it when 
you refuse to say you did n't set a slander going. 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 3'Ou 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 per- 
haps 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 the length in family 
prayers, and so on, that you do, believes in his religion what- 
ever 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 tliat ; you must be first chop 
in heaven, else you won't like it much. But you 're my sister's 
husband, and we ought to stick together ; and if I know Har- 
riet, she '11 consider it your fault if we quarrel because you 
strain at a gnat in this way, and refuse to do Fred a good 
turn. And I don't mean to say I shall bear it well. I 
consider it unhandsome." 

Mr. Vincy 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 ^Fr. Bulstrode had begun 
by admonishing ^Ir. Vincy, and had ended by seeing a very 
unsatisfactory reflection of himself in the coarse unflatter- 
ing 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 equally irrepressible. 

It was not in Mr. Bulstrode's nature to com])ly directly in 
consequence of uncomfortable suggestions. Before changing 
his course, he always needed to shape his motives and bring 



136 MIDDLEMARCH. 

them into accordance with his habitual standard. He said, 
at last — 

" I will 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 you to-morrow." 



CHAPTEE XIV. 

" Follows here the strict receipt 
For that sauce to daiuty meat, 
Named Idleness, which many eat 
By preference, and call it sweet : 

First icalchfor worsels, like a hound, 

Mix ivdl with buffets, stir them round 

With (jood thick oil of flatteries, 

And froth with mean seJj-laudim) lies. 

Serve warm : the iiessds you must choose 

To keep it in are dead men's shoes" 

Mr. Bulstrode's consultation of Harriet seemed to have 
had the effect desired by Mr. Vincy, for early the next morn- 
ing a letter came which Fred could carry to Mr. Featherstone 
as the required testimony. 

The old 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 mankind. He put on 
his spectacles to read the letter, pursing up his lips and draw- 
ing down their corners. 

" Under the circumstances I u'ill not decline to state my con- 
viction — tchah ! what fine words the fellow puts! He's as 
fine as an auctioneer — that your son Frederic has not obtained 
any advance of money on bequests 2'>i'omiscd by Mr. Featherstone 



OLD AND YOUNG. 137 

— promised ? who said I had ever promised ? I promise 
nothing — I shall make codicils as long as I like — and that 
considering the nature of such a i^roceedinrj^ it is unreasonable 
to presume that a young man of sense and character would at- 
tempt it — ah, but the gentleman does n"t say you are a 3'oung 
man of sense and character, mark you that, sir I — 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 pn'operty that might accrue to him on 
Mr. F eather stone' s demise — bless my heart ! ' property ' — 
accrue — demise ! Lawyer Standish is nothing to him. He 
couldn't speak finer if he wanted to borrow. Well,'' ]\lr. 
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. " Yon wished to have the letter, sir. I should 
think it very likely that Mr. Bulstrode's denial is as good as 
the authority which told you what he denies." 

''Every bit. I never said I believed either one or the other. 
And now what d' you expect ? " said Mr. Featherstone, curtly, 
keeping on his spectacles, but withdrawing his hands under 
his wraps. 

" I ex[)ect nothing, sir." Fred with difficulty restrained 
himself from venting his irritation. "I came to bring you the 
letter. If you like I will bid you good morning." 

"Not yet, not yet. Ring the bell; I want missy to come." 

It was a serv^ant who came in answer to the bell. 

" Tell missy to come ! " said Mr. Featherstone, impatiently. 
" What business had she to go away ? " He spoke in the same 
tone when Mary came. 

" Why could n't you sit still here till I told you to go ? I 
want my waistcoat now. I told you always to put it on the 
bed." 

Mary's eyes looked rather red, as if she had been crying. It 
was clear that INIr. Featherstone was in one of his most snap- 
pish humors this morning, and though Fred had now the pros- 
pect of receiving the much-needed present of money, he would 



138 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 doAvn 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 condiment. When 
his own relatives came she was treated better. Slowly he took 
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, sir. You were good enough to speak of making 
me a present the other day, else, of course, I should not have 
thought of the matter." But Fred was of a hopeful dispo- 
sition, 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. 

The 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, Mr. Featherstone eyed him again over 



OLD AND YOUNG. 139 

his spectacles and presented him with a little sheaf of notes : 
Fred could see distinctly that there were but live, as the less 
significant edges gaped towards him. But then, each might 
mean fifty pounds. 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 value. But this 
did not suit Mr. Featherstone, who was eying him intently. 

" Come, don't 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 hapj^y, 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 ex- 
pectations ? 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 higlier 
education of this country did not seem to help him. Never- 
theless he said, with rapid changes in his fair complexion — 

" It is very handsome of you, sir," 

" I should think it is," said Mr. Featherstone, locking his 
box and replacing it, then taking off his spectacles deliber- 
ately, and at length, as if his inward meditation had more 
deeply convinced him, repeating, " I should think it is 
handsome." 

" I assure you, sir, I am very grateful," said Fred, who had 
had time to recover his cheerful air. 

" So you ought to be. Y^ou 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 
ratlier a fool for doing so. 

" Y"es, 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 



140 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 bargains." 

" Well, you can buy yourself a fine hunter now. Eighty 
pound is enough for that, I reckon — and you '11 have twenty 
X;ound over to get yourself out of auy little scrape," said Mr. 
Featherstone, chuckling slightly. 

" 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 ? " 

" My father never tells me anything about his affairs, sir." 

" Well, he shows some sense there. But other people find 
'em out' without his telling. HeHl never have much to leave 
you : he '11 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 like. But you won't get much by his dying without 
a will, though you are the eldest son." 

Fred thought that Mr. Featherstone had never been so 
disagreeable before. True, he had never before given him 
quite so much money at once. 

" Shall I 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." 

Fred carried 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. Presently, the farm-bailiff came up to give his master 
a report, and Fred, to his unspeakable relief, was dismissed 
with the injunction to come again soon. 

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. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 141 

" Am I wanted up-stairs ? '' she said, half rising as Fred 
entered. 

"No ; I am only dismissed, because Simmons is gone up." 

Mary sat down again, and resumed her work. She 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 sliall I bore you ? " 

"Pray sit 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 leave." 

" 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 things 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 grateful. I should 
have thought that I, at least, might have been safe from all 
that. I have no ground for the nonsensical vanity of fancy- 
ing 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. 

"Confound John Waule! I did not mean to make you 
angry. I did n'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." 
Mary had 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 morn- 
ing," 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 way." 

"Oh, I have an easy life — by comparison. I have tried 



142 MIDDLEMAECH. 

being a teacher, and I am not fit for that : my mind is too 
fond of wandering on its own way. I think any hardsliip 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 im- 
prisoned with ogres in fairy tales." 

'■'' Bosy ! ^^ cried Tred, in a tone of profound brotherly 
scepticism. 

"Come, Fred!" said Mary, emphatically; '^ you have no 
right to be so critical." 

" Do you mean anything particular — just now ? " 

"No, I mean something general — always." 

" Oh, that I am idle and extravagant. Well, I am not fit to 
be a poor man. I should not have made a bad fellow if I had 
been rich." 

" You would have done your duty in that state of life 
to which it has not pleased God to call you," said Mary, 
laughing. 

" Well, I could n't do my duty as a clergyman, any more 
than you could do yours as a governess. You ought to have a 
little fellow-feeling there, INIary." 

"I never said you ought to be a clergyman. There are 
other sorts of work. It seems to me very misei'able not to 
resolve on some course and act accordingly." 

" So I could, if — " Fred broke off, and stood up, leaning 
against the mantel-piece. 

" If you were sure you should not have a fortune ? " 

" I did not say that. Y'ou 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 you ? I should be quar- 
relling with all my new books," said Mary, lifting the volume 
on the table. " However naughty you may be to other people, 
you are good to me." 

" Because I like you better than any one else. But I know 
you despise me." 

" Yes, I do — a little," said Mary, nodding, with a smile. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 143 

*' You would admire a stupendous fellow, who would have 
wise opinions about everything." 

"Yes, I should." Mary was sewing swiftly, and seemed 
provokingly mistress of the situation. When a conversation 
has taken a wrong turn fcr us, we only get farther and farther 
into the swamp of awkwardness. This was what Fred Y^incy 
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 girl." 

"Let me see," said Mary, the corners of her mouth curling 
archly ; " I must go back on my experience. There is Juliet 

— she seems an example of what you say. But then Ophelia 
had probably known Hamlet a long while ; and Breuda Troil 

— she had known Mordaunt Merton ever since they were 
chihlren ; but then he seems to have been an estimable young 
man ; and Minna Avas still more deeply in love with Cleveland, 
who was a stranger. \Vaverle3" was new to Flora Maclvor; 
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 expe- 
rience is rather mixed." 

Mary looked up with some roguishness at Fred, and that 
look of hers was very dear to him, though the eyes were noth- 
ing more than clear windows where observation sat laugh- 
ingly. He 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." 

" Xot 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 dearly. '^ 



144 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" I think the goodness should come before he expects that." 

"You know better, Mary. Women don't love men for their 
goodness." 

" Perhaps not. But if they love them, they never think 
them bad." 

" It is hardly fair to say I am bad." 

" I said nothing at all about you." 

" I never shall be good for anything, Mary, if you will not 
say that you love me — if you will not proniise to marry me — 
I mean, when I am able to marr^'." 

" If I did love you, I would not marry you : I would cer- 
tainly not promise ever to marry you." 

<' I think that is quite wicked, Mary. If you love me, you 
ought to promise to marry me." 

" On the contrary, I think it would be wicked in me to 
marry you even if I did love you." 

"You mean, just as I am, without any means of maintain- 
ing a wife. Of course : I am but three-and-twenty." 

" In that last point you will alter. But I am not so sure of 
any other alteration. My father says an idle man ought not 
to exist, much less, be married." 

" Then I am to blow my brains out ? " 

"No; on the whole I should think you would do better to 
pass your examination. I have heard Mr. Farebrother say it 
is disgracefully easy." 

" That is all very fine. Anything is easy to him. Not that 
cleverness has anything to do with it. I am ten times cleverer 
than many men who pass." 

" Dear me ! " 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 3^our own, I suppose. There ! there is 
Mr. Lydgate. I must go and tell my uncle." 



OLD AND YOUXG. 145 

" Mary," said 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, red- 
dening. " 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 work ! " 

Fred was 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 not ungrateful. But 
never speak to me in that way again." 

" Very well," said Fred, sulkily, taking up his hat and whip. 
His complexion showed patches of pale pink and dead white. 
Like many a plucked idle young gentleman, he was thoroughly 
in love, and with a plain girl, who had no money ! But hav- 
ing Mr. Featherstone's land in the background, and a persua- 
sion 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, mother. I want it to pay a debt with. 
So keep it safe away from my lingers." 

" Bless you, my dear," said Mrs. Vincy. She doted on her 
eldest son and her youngest girl (a child of six), whom others 
thought her two naughtiest children. The 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 mother. Perhaps it was his fond- 
ness for another person also that made him particularly anx- 
ious to take some security against his' own liability to spend 
the hundred pounds. For the creditor to whom he owed a 
hundred and sixty held a firmer security in the shape of a bill 
signed by Mary's father. 



10 



146 MIDDLEMARCH. 



CHAPTER XY. 

" Black eyes you have left, you say. 
Blue eyes fail to draw you ; 
Yet you seem more rapt to-day, 
Than of old we saw you. 

" Oh, I track the fairest fair 

Through new haunts of pleasure ; 
Footprints here and echoes there 
Guide me to my treasure : 

" Lo ! she turns — immortal youth 
"Wrought to mortal stature, 
Eresh as starlight's aged truth — 
Many-named Nature ! " 

A GKEAT 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 succes- 
sive books of his history, where he seems to bring his arm- 
chair to the proscenium and chat with us in all the lust}^ ease 
of his fine English. But Eielding 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 evenings. We 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 camp- 
stool in a parrot-house. I at least have so much to do in 
unravelling 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 



OLD AND YOUNG. 147 

even to those who had seen the most of him since his arrival 
in Middle march. For surely all must admit that a man may 
be pulfed 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 merely 
as a cluster of signs for his neighbors' false suppositions. 
There was a general impression, however, that 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 him. For everybody's family doctor w^as 
remarkably clever, and was understood to have immeasurable 
skill in the management and training of the most skittish or 
vicious diseases. 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 bj^ others equally strong ; each 
lady who saw medical truth in Wrench and " the strengthen- 
ing treatment" regarding Toller and "the lowering system'^ 
as medical perdition. For the heroic times of copious bleed- 
ing 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 w-ithout shilly-shally 
— as if, for example, it were to be called insurrection, which 
must not be fired on with blank-cartridge, but liave 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. Xobody's imagination 
had gone so far as to conjecture tliat ^Ir. .Lydgate could know 
as much as Dr. Sprague and Dr. ^linchin, the two ph^^sicians, 
who alone could offer any hope wdien danger was extreme, 
and when the smallest hope was worth a guinea. Still, I 
repeat, there was a general impression that Lydgate was some- 
thing 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 w^hich they are hopeful of achievement, resolute in avoid- 
ance, thinking that Mammon shall never put a bit in their 
mouths and get astride their backs, but rather that Mammon, 



148 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 father, 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 dignity. He 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 it. Most 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 vokune, 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. Some- 
thing 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 Kasselas 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 ]io spark had yet 
kindled in him an intellectual passion ; knowledge seemed to 
him a very superficial affair, easily mastered: judging from 
the conversation of his elders, he had apparently got already 



OLD AND YOUNG. 149 

more than was necessary for mature life. Probably this Avas 
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 ding}^ labels 
— the volumes of an old Cyclopa?dia which he had never dis- 
turbed. It would at least be a novelty to disturb them. They 
were on the highest shelf, and he stood on a chair to get them 
down. But he opened the volume which he first took from 
the shelf : somehow, one is apt to read in a makeshift attitude, 
just where it might seem inconvenient to do so. The 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 witli valves of any sort, but he 
knew that valvcB were folding-doors, and through this crevice 
came a sudden light startling him with his tirst 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, 
hiul 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 presentiment 
of endless processes filling the vast spaces planked out of his 
sight by that wordy ignorance which he had supjiosed to be 
knowledge. From that hour Lydgate felt the growth of an 
intellectual passion. 

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 fairnesse," 
never weary of listening to the twanging of the old Troubar 



150 MIDDLEMARCH. 

dour 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 desires ? 
In the story of this passion, too, the development varies : 
sometimes it 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 little. The 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 gener- 
ous 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 furniture ghastly. 
Nothing in the world more subtle than the process of their 
gradual change ! In the beginning they inhaled it unknow- 
ingly : you and I may have sent some of our breath towards 
infecting them, when we uttered our conforming falsities or 
drew our silly conclusions : or perhaps it came with the vibra- 
tions from a woman's glance. 

Lydgate did 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 youth- 
ful 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 be- 
tween intellectual conquest and the social good. Lydgate's 
nature demanded this combination : 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, especially 
Elizabeth. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 151 

There was another attraction in his profession : it 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 qualifica- 
tions. He went to study in Paris with the determination that 
when he came home again he would settle in some provincial 
town as a general practitioner, and resist the irrational sever- 
ance between medical and surgical knowledge in the interest 
of his own scientific pursuits, as well as of the general advance : 
he would keep away from the range of London intrigues, jeal- 
ousies, 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 pro- 
moted in town, and many more got a legal riglit to practise 
over large areas in the country. Also, the high standard held 
up to the public mind by the College of Physicians, which 
gave its peculiar sanction to the expensive and highly rarefied 
medical instruction obtained by graduates of Oxford and Cam- 
bridge, 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. Consid- 
ering 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 chang- 
ing the numbers. He meant to be a unit who would make a 
certain amount of difference towards that spreading change 
R'hich would one day tell appreciably upon the averages, and 
in the mean time have the pleasure of making an advan- 
tageous difference to the viscera of his own patients. But he 
did not simply aim at a more genuine kind of practice than 



lo2 MIDDLEMARCH. 

was common. He was ambitious of a wider effect : he was 
tired witli the possibility that he might work out the proof 
of au aiiatoDiical conception and make a link in the chain of 
discovery. 

Does it seem incongruous to you that a Middlemarch sur- 
geon should dream of himself as a discoverer ? Most 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 bar- 
riers of the heavens" — did he not once play a provincial 
church-organ, and give music-lessons to stumbling pianists? 
Each 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 fame : each 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 immortals. Lydgate was not blind 
to the dangers of such friction, but he had plenty of confi- 
dence 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 w^ho 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 fur- 
ther his thought as an instrument of larger inquiry. Was not 
this the typical pre-eminence of his profession ? He would 
be a good JMiddlemarch 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 repre- 



OLD AND YOUNG. 153 

sent the cause of public morality. He 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 demon- 
strating of an anatomical conception. One of these reforms 
was to act stoutly on the strength of a recent legal decision, 
and simply prescribe, without dispensing drugs or taking per- 
centage from druggists. This 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 brethren. But 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. 

Perhaps that 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 Pa- 
thology were a line America for a spirited young adventurer. 
Lydgate was ambitious above all to contribute towards enlarg- 
ing the scientific, rational basis of his profession. The 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 be- 
ginning 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 heirs. That 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 compacted, 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. Ko man, one sees, can understand and estimate 
the entire structure or its parts — what are its frailties and 



154 MIDDLEMARCH. 

what its repairs, without knowing the nature of the materials. 
And the conception wrought out by Bichat, with his detailed 
study of the different tissues, acted necessarily on medical 
questions as the tu.ning 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 prac- 
tice 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-hydro- 
gen, showing the very grain of things, and revising all former 
explanations. Of this sequence to Bichat's work, already vi- 
brating 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 many seekers. 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 be- 
gun to use again with new enthusiasm of reliance. Such was 
Lydgate's plan of his future : to do good small work for Mid- 
dlemarch, and great work for the world. 

He was certainly a happy fellow at this time : to be seven- 
and-twenty, without any fixed vices, with a generous resolution 
that his action should be beneficent, and with ideas in his brain 



OLD AND YOUNG. 155 

t]iat made life interesting quite apart from the cultiis of horse- 
flesh 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 start- 
ing-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 ar- 
duous 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 headlong. 
The risk would remain even with close knowledge of Lydgate's 
character ; for character too is a process and an unfolding. The 
man was still in the making, as much as the Middlemarch doc- 
tor and immortal discoverer, and the.e were both virtues and 
faults capable of shrinking or expanding. The faults will not, 
I hope, be a reason for 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 native prejudices; or 
whose better energies are liable to lapse down the wrong chan- 
nel under the influence of transient solicitations ? All these 
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 dis- 
tilled have distinguishable physiognomies, diction, accent, and 
grimaces ; filling up parts in very various dramas. Our vani- 
ties differ as our noses do : all conceit is not the same conceit, 
but varies in correspondence with the minutine 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 him : he 
had thought of joining the Saint Simonians when he was in 
Paris, in order to turn them against some of their own doc- 
trines. All his faults were marked by kindred traits, and were 



156 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

those of a man who had a fine barytone, whose clothes hung 
well upon him, and who even in his ordinary gestures had an 
air of inbred distinction. Where then lay the spots of common- 
ness? says a young lady enamoured of that careless grace. 
How could there be any commonness in a man so 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 pleas- 
ures ; unable to go beyond Offenbach's music, or the brilliant 
punning in the last burlesque. Lydgate's spots of common- 
ness 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 desir- 
ability of its being known (without his telling) that he was 
better born than other country surgeons. 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 lovable. The 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 un- 
explained shocks, and w^ent to finish his evening at the theatre 



OLD AND YOUNG. 157 

of the Porte Saint Martin, where there was a melodrama which 
he had already seen several times ; attracted, not by the in- 
genious 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 piece. Lydgate 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 Proven(;ale, with dark eyes, 
a Greek profile, and rounded majestic form, having that sort of 
beauty w^hich carries a sweet matronliness even in youth, and 
her voice was a soft cooing. She had but lately come to Paris, 
and bore a 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 satisiied. Lyd- 
gate'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 catastrophe. At the 
moment when the heroine was to act the 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 Proven(;ale 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 ac- 
quaintance of his heroine by finding a contusion on her head 
and lifting her gentl}' in his arms. Paris i-ang 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 these. He 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 mur- 
der was absurd : no motive was discoverable, the young couple 
being understood to dote on each other ; and it was not un- 
precedented that an accidental slip of the foot should have 
brought these grave consequences. The legal investigation 



158 MIDDLEMARCH. 

ended in Madame Laure's release. Lydgate by this time had 
had many interviews with her, and found her more and more 
adorable. She talked little ; but that w^as an additional charm. 
She 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, Avhere 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 comforter. Hidden actresses, however, 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 Lyons. He 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 him. He knew that this was like the sudden 
impulse of a madman — incongruous even with his habitual 
foibles. No matter ! 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 per- 
sistent self pauses and awaits us. 

To have approached Laure with any suit that was not rever- 
entially 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, 



OLD AND YOUNG. • 159 

and looking at him witli eyes that seemed to wonder as an 
untamed ruminating animal wonders. "Are all Englishmen 
like that ? " 

" I came 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." 

Laure looked 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 really slipped." 

" I know, I know," said Lydgate, deprecatingly. " It was 
a fatal accident — a dreadful stroke of calamity that bound 
me to you the more." 

Again Laure paused a little and then said, slowly, "/ meant 
to do it:' 

Lydgate, strong man as he was, turned pale and trembled : 
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." 

" No ! he wearied me ; he was too fond : he would live in 
Paris, and not in my country ; that was not agreeable to me." 

" Great God I " said Lydgate, in a groan of horror. " And 
you planned to murder him ? " 

" I did not plan : it came to me in the play — / meant to 
do it:' 

Lydgate stood 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. 

"Y"ou are a good young man," she said. "But I do not 
like husbands. I will never have another." 

Three days 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 abun- 
dant kindness of his heart and his belief that human life 



160 • MIDDLEMARCH. 

might be made better. But he had more reason than ever 
for trusting his judgment, now. that it was so experienced; 
and henceforth he would take a strictly scientific view of wo- 
man, entertaining no expectations but such as were justified 
beforehand. 

No one in Middlemarch 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 mor- 
tals generally to any eager attempt at exactness in the repre- 
sentation to themselves of what did not come under their own 
senses. Not onl}' young virgins of that town, but gray -bearded 
men also, were often in haste to conjecture how a new acquaint- 
ance might be ^vrought into their purposes, contented with 
very vague knowledge as to the way in which life had been 
shaping him for that instrumentality. Middlemarch, in fact, 
counted on swallowing Lydgate and assimilating him very 
comfortably. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

All that in Avoman is adored 

In thy fair self 1 find — 
For the whole sex can but afford 

The handsome and the kind. 

Sir Charles Sedlet. 

The question 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. Bulstrode. The 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. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 161 

Mr. 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 })Ost, 
a chief share in administering the town charities, and his 
private charities were both minute and abundant. He would 
take a great deal of pains about apprenticing Tegg the shoe- 
maker'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 neiglibors' 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 tlirough a great deal of spiuitual 
conflict and inward argument in order to adjust his motives, 
and make clear to himself what God's glory required. But, 
as we have seen, his motives were not always rightly appre- 
ciated. There were 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. Yincy's table 
when Lydgate was dining there, and the family connection 
with Mr. Bulstrode did not, he observed, prev^ent some free- 
dom 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 doc- 
trine, and his preference for Mr. Farebrother, whose sei-mons 
were free from that taint. Mr. Vincy liked well enough the 
VOL. VI r. 11 



162 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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. 

"What line shall you take, then?" said Mr. Chichely, the- 
coroner, a great coursing comrade of Mr. Vincy's. 

" Oh, I 'ni 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 responsibil- 
ity 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 per- 
sonal liking. The fittest man for a particular post is not al- 
ways the best fellow or the most agreeable. Sometimes, if 
you wanted to get a reform, your only wa}^ would be to pen- 
sion off the good fellows whom everybody is fond of, and put 
them out of the question." 

Dr. Sprague, 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 w^as 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 — was positively unwelcome to a physi- 
cian w^iose standing had been fixed thirty years before by a 
treatise on Meningitis, of which at least one copy marked 
"own " was bound in calf. For my part I have some fellow- 
feeling with Dr. Sprague : one's self-satisfaction is an un- 
taxed kind of property which it is very unpleasant to find 
depreciated. 

Lydgate's remark, however, did not meet the sense of the 
company. Mi'. Vincy said, that if he could have his way, he 
would not put disagreeable fellows anywhere. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 163 

'' Hang your reforms I " said Mr. Chichely. " There 's no 
greater 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 profession : 
your words appear to point that way." 

"I disapprove of Wakley," 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 sal*e 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 
right." 

" Oh, well," said Mr. Chichely, " I blame no man for stand- 
ing 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 ? " 

" In my opinion," said Lydgate, " legal training only makes 
a man more incompetent in questions that require knowledge 
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 well. A lawyer is no better than an 
old woman at a j^ost-morteni examination. How is he to know 
the action of a poison ? Y^ou might as well say that scanning 
verse will teach you to scan the potato crops." 

" Y^ou are aware, I suppose, that it is not the coroner's 
business to conduct the j^ost-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 be- 
lieve that strychnine will destroy the coats of the stomach if 
an ignorant practitioner happens to tell him so." 



164 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Lydgate had really lost sight of the fact that Mr. Chichely 
was his Majesty^s coroner, and ended innocently with the ques- 
tion, " 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 succeed him. I am sure Vincy will agree 
with me." 

"Yes, yes, give. me a coroner who is a good coursing man," 
said Mr. Vincy, jovially. " And in my opinion, you 're safest 
with a lawyer. Nobody 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 
ladies ? " 

Lydgate's 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 difficul- 
ties of moving in good Middlemarch society : it was dangerous 
to insist on knowledge as a qualification for any salaried office. 
Fred 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 Eosamond, 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 ma- 
tron'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 attrac- 
tions of the Vincy house — attractions which made it all the 
easier to fall in love with the daughter. The tinge of unpre- 
tentious, inoffensive vulgarity in Mrs. Vincy gave more effect 
to E/Osamond's refinement, which was beyond what Lydgate 
had expected. 

Certainly, 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 Eosamond could say the right 



OLD AND YOUXG. 165 

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 cleverness. 

She and Lydgate readily got into conversation. He regret- 
ted that he had not heard her sing the other day at Stone 
Court. The only pleasure he allowed himself during the lat- 
ter part of his stay in Paris was to go and hear music. 

"You have studied music, 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 very tuneless. There 
are hardly any good musicians. I only know two gentlemen 
who sing at all well.*' 

"I suppose it is the fashion to sing comic songs in a rhyth- 
mic 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 
neighbors." 

Lydgate was 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, her- 
self 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 had had 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 
recalled himself. 

^' You will let me hear some music to-night, I hope." 

" I will let you hear my attempts, if you like," said Rosa- 
mond. "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. 



166 MIDDLEMARCH. 

But our organist at St. Peter's is a good musician, and I go on 
studying Avith him." 

"Tell me what you saw in London." 

"Very little." (A more naive girl would have said, 
"Oh, everything! ' 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 Eosamond blush with pleasure. But she re- 
mained simply serious, turned her long neck a little, and put 
up her hand to touch her wondrous hair-plaits — an habitual 
gesture with her as pretty as any movements of a kitten's 
paw. Not that Eosamond 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 
neighbors. But I am really afraid of you." 

"An 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 w^ere any common language 
between them. Happily, there is a common language between 
women and men, and so the bears can get taught." 

" Ah, there is Fred beginning to strum ! I must go and 
hinder him from jarring all your nerves," said Eosamond, 
moving to the other side of the room, where Fred having 
opened the piano, at his father's desire, that Eosamond might 
give them some music, was parenthetically performing " Cherry 
Eipe ! " with one hand. Able men who have passed their 
examinations will do these things sometimes, not less than 
the plucked Fred. 

" Fred, pray defer your practising till to-morrow ; you will 
make Mr. Lydgate ill," said Eosamond. "' He has an ear." 

Fred laughed, and w^ent on with his tune to the end. 

Eosamond turned to Lydgate, smiling gently, and said, 
" You perceive, tlie bears will not alwaj^s be taught." 

"Now then, Eosy!" said Fred, springing from the stool 



OLD AND YOUNG. lt)7 

and twisting it upward for her, with a hearty expectation of 
enjoyment. "Some good rousing tunes first." 

Rosamond played admirably. Her master at Mrs. Lemon's 
school (close to a 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 celebrity. Rosa- 
mond, 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 w^as 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 
an interpreter. Lydgate w^as 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 conjunc- 
tions of nature under circumstances apparently unfavorable : 
come where they may, they always depend on conditions that 
are not obvious. He sat looking at her, and did not rise to 
pay her any compliments, leaving that to others, now that his 
admiration was deepened. 

Her singing 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 moonliglit," 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 canzo- 
nets, or " Voi, che sapete," or " Batti, batti " — she only w^anted 
to know^ what her audience liked. 

Her father looked round at the company, delighting in their 
admiration. Her mother sat, like a Niobe before her troubles, 
with her joungest 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 



168 MIDDLEMARCH. 

that Lj^lgate Lad seen since he came to Middlemarch. The 
Vincys had the readiness to enjoy, the rejection of all anxiety, 
and the belief in life as a merry lot, which made a honse ex- 
ceptional in most county towns at that time, when Evangeli- 
calism had cast a certain suspicion as of plague-infection over 
the few amusements ^vhich survived in the provinces. At the 
Yincys' there was always wdiist, 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 
handsome, broad-chested but otherwise small man, about forty, 
whose black was very threadbare : the 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 show him." 

But soon he swerved to the whist-table, rubbing his hands 
and saying, "Come now, let us be serious! ]\Ir. Lydgate? 
not play ? Ah ! you are too young and light for this kind of 
thing." 

Lydgate said 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 household. He 
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 be- 
guiling to people who had no particular use for their odd hours. 

Everything looked blooming and joyous except Miss Mor- 
gan, who was brown, dull, and resigned, and altogether, as 
Mrs. Vincy often said, just the sort of person for a governess. 
Lydgate did not mean to pay many such visits himself. They 
were a wretched waste of the evenings ; and now, when he had 
talked a little more to Rosamond, he meant to excuse himself 
and q:o. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 169 

" You will not like us at Middlemarch, I feel sure," she said, 
when the whist-phwers were settled. *'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 made up 
my mind to take Middlemarch as it conies, 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 expected." 

*' 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 me." 

Rosamond rose and reached her netting, and then said, '' Do 
yon care about dancing at all ? I am not quite sure whether 
clever men ever dance." 

" I would dance with you if j-ou would allow me." 

" Oh ! " said Rosamond, with a slight deprecatory laugh. 
"I was only going to say that we sometimes have dancing, and 
I wanted to know whetlier you would feel insulted if you were 
asked to come." 

"Xot on the condition I mentioned." 

After this chat Lydgate thought that he was going, but on 
moving towards the whist-tables, he got interested in watching 
Mr. Fare brother's play, which was masterly, and also his face, 
Avhich 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. Fare- 
brother 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 Avas the oldest church in Middlemarch ; the 
living, however, was but a vicarage worth barely four hun- 
dred a-year. Lydgate had heard that, and he wondered now 
whether Mr. Farebrother cared about the money he won at 



170 MlDDLEiMAKCH. 

cards ; thinking, " He seems a very pleasant fellow, but Bul- 
strode 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 
use such 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 Kosamond 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 Kosamond exceedingi}^ ; 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 intelligence one would desire 
in a woman — polished, refined, docile, lending itself to finish 
in all the delicacies of life, and enshrined in a body which 
expressed this with a force of demonstration that excluded 
the need for other evidence. Lydgate felt sure that if ever 
he married, his wife would have that feminine radiance, that 
distinctive womanhood which must be classed with flowers 
and music, that sort of beauty which by its very nature was 
virtuous, being moulded only for pure and delicate joys. 

But since he did not mean to marry for the next five years 
— his more pressing business was to look into Louis' new 
book on Fever, which he was specially interested in, because 
he had known Louis in Paris, and had followed many ana- 
tomical demonstrations in order to ascertain the specific differ- 
ences of typhus and typhoid. He went home and read far 
into the smallest hour, bringing a much more testing vision of 
details and relations into this pathological study than he had 



OLD AND YOUNG. 171 

ever thought it necessary to apply to the complexities of love 
and marriage, these being subjects on which he felt himself 
amply informed by literature, and that traditional wisdom 
which is handed down in the genial conversation of men. 
Whereas Fever had obscure conditions, and gave him that 
delightful labor of the imagination which is not mere arbitra- 
riness, but the exercise of disciplined power — combining 
and constructing with the clearest eye for probabilities and 
the fullest obedience to knowledge ; and then, in yet more 
energetic alliance with impartial Nature, standing aloof to 
invent tests by which to try its own work. 

Many men have been praised as vividly imaginative on the 
strength of their profuseness in indifferent drawing or cheap 
narration: — reports of very poor talk going on in distant 
orbs ; or portraits of Lucifer coming down on his bad errands 
as a large ugly man with bat's wings and spurts of phospho- 
resence ; or exaggerations of wantonness that seem to reflect 
life in a diseased dream. But these kinds of inspiration 
Lydgate regarded as rather vulgar and vinous compared with 
the imagination that reveals subtle actions inaccessible by any 
sort of lens, but tracked in that outer darkness through long 
pathways of necessary sequence by the inward light which is 
the last refinement of Energy, capable of bathing even the 
ethereal atoms in its ideally illuminated space. He for his 
part had tossed away all cheap inventions where ignorance 
finds itself able and at ease : he was enamoured of that ar- 
duous invention which is the very eye of research, provi- 
sionally framing its object and correcting it to more and more 
exactness of relation ; he wanted to pierce the obscurity of 
those minute processes which prepare human misery and 
joy, those invisible thoroughfares which are the first lurking- 
places of anguish, mania, and crime, that delicate poise and 
transition which determine the growth of happy or unhappy 
consciousness. 

As he threw down his book, stretched his legs towards the 
embers in the grate, and clasped his hands at the back of his 
head, in that agreeable afterglow of excitement when thought 
lapses from examination of a specific object into a suffusive sense 



172 MIDDLEMARCH. 

of its connections with all the rest of our existence — seems, 
as it were, to throw itself on its back after vigorous swimming 
and float with the repose of unexhausted strength — Lydgate 
felt a triumphant delight in his studies, and something like 
pity for those less lucky men who were not of his profession. 

" If I had not taken that turn when I Avas a lad," he thought, 
" I might have got into some stupid draught-horse work or 
other, and lived always in blinkers. I should never have been 
happy in any profession that did not call forth the highest 
intellectual strain, and yet keep me in good warm contact with 
my neighbors. There is nothing like the medical profession 
for that : one can have the exclusive scientific life that 
touches the distance and befriend the old fogies in the parish 
too. It is rather harder for a clergyman : Farebrother seems 
to be an anomaly." 

This last thought brought back the Vincys and all the pic- 
tures of the evening. They floated in his mind agreeably 
enough, and as he took up his bed-candle his lips were curled 
with that incipient smile which is apt to accompany agreeable 
recollections. He was an ardent fellow, but at present his 
ardor was absorbed in love of his work and in the ambition 
of making his life recognized as a factor in the better life of 
mankind — like other heroes of science who had nothing but 
an obscure country practice to begin with. 

Poor Lydgate ! or shall I say, Poor Rosamond ! Each lived 
in a world of which the other knew nothing. It had not 
occurred to Lydgate that he had been a subject of eager medi- 
tation to Eosamond, who had neither any reason for throwing 
her marriage into distant perspective, nor any pathological 
studies to divert her mind from that ruminating habit, that 
inward repetition of looks, words, and phrases, which makes a 
large part in the lives of most girls. He had not meant to 
look at her or speak to her with more than the inevitable 
amount of admiration and compliment which a man must give 
to a beautiful girl ; indeed, it seemed to him that his enjoy- 
ment of her music had remained almost silent, for he feared 
falling into the rudeness of telling her his great surprise at 
her possession of such accomplishment. But Eosamond had 



OLD AND YOUNG. 173 

registered every look and word, and estimated them as the open- 
ing incidents of a preconceived romance — incidents wliich 
gather value from the foreseen development and climax. In 
Rosamond's romance it was not necessary to imagine much 
about the inward life of the hero, or of his serious business in 
the world : of course, he had a profession and was clever, as 
well as sufficiently handsome ; but the piquant fact about 
Lydgate was his good birth, which distinguished him from all 
Middlemarch admirers, and presented marriage as a prospect 
of rising in rank and getting a little nearer to that celestial 
condition on earth in which she would have nothing to do 
with vulgar people, and perhaps at last associate with rela- 
tives quite equal to the county people who looked down 
on the Middlemarchers. It was part of Rosamond's clever- 
ness to discern very subtly the faintest aroma of rank, and 
once when she had seen the Miss Brookes accompanying 
their uncle at the county assizes, and seated among the aris- 
tocracy, she had envied them, notwithstanding their plain 
dress. 

If you think it incredible that to imagine Lydgate as a man 
of family could cause thrills of satisfaction which had any- 
thing to do with the sense that she was in love with him, I 
will ask you to use your power of comparison a little more 
effectively, and consider whether red cloth and epaulets have 
never had an influence of that sort. Our passions do not live 
apart in locked chambers, but, dressed in their small wardrobe 
of notions, bring their provisions to a common table and mess 
together, feeding out of the common store according to their 
appetite. 

Rosamond, in fact, was entirely occupied not exactly with 
Tertius Lydgate as he was in himself, but with his relation 
to her; and it was excusable in a girl who was accustomed to 
hear that all young men might, could, would be, or actually 
were in love with her, to believe at once that Lydgate could 
be no exception. His looks and words meant more to her 
than other men's, because she cared more for them : she 
thought of them diligently, and diligently attended to that 
perfection of appearance, behavior, sentiments, and all other 



174 MIDDLEMARCH. 

elegancies, which would find in Lydgate a more adequate ad- 
mirer than she had yet been conscious of. 

For Eosamond, though she would never do anything that 
was disagreeable to her, was industrious; and now more than 
ever she was active in sketching her landscapes and market- 
carts and portraits of friends, in practising her music, and in 
being from morning till night her own standard of a perfect 
lady, having always an audience in her own consciousness, 
with sometimes the not unwelcome addition of a more variable 
external audience in the numerous visitors of the house. She 
found time also to read the best novels, and even the second 
best, and she knew much poetry by heart. Her favorite poem 
was " Lalla Eookh." 

" The best girl in the world ! He will be a happy fellow 
who gets her ! " was the sentiment of the elderly gentlemen 
who visited the Vincys ; and the rejected young men thought 
of trying again, as is the fashion in country towns where the 
horizon is not thick with coming rivals. But Mrs. Plymdale 
thought that Eosamond had been educated to a ridiculous 
pitch, for what was the use of accomplishments which would 
be all laid aside as soon as she was married ? While her aunt 
Bulstrode, who had a sisterly faithfulness towards her broth- 
er's family, had two sincere wishes for Eosamond — that 
she might show a more serious turn of mind, and that she 
might meet w^th a husband whose wealth corresponded to her 
habits. 



CHAPTEE XVII. 

" The clerkly person smiled and said, 
Promise Avas a pretty maid, 
But being poor she died unwed." 

The Eev. Camden Farebrother, whom Lydgate went to see 
the next evening, lived in an old parsonage, built of stone, 
venerable enough to match the church which it looked out 



OLD AND YOUNG. 175 

upon. All the furniture too in the house was old, but with 
another grade of age — that of jMr, Farebrother's father and 
grandfather. There were painted white chairs, with gilding 
and wreaths on them, and some lingering red silk damask with 
slits in it. There were engraved portraits of Lord Chancel- 
lors and other celebrated lawyers of the last century ; and 
there were old pier-glasses to reflect them, as well as the little 
satin-wood tables and the sofas resembling a prolongation of 
uneasy chairs, all standing in relief against the dark wainscot. 
This was the physiognomy of the drawing-room into which 
Lydgate was shown ; and there were three ladies to receive 
him, who were also old-fashioned, and of a faded but genu- 
ine respectability : ^Irs. Farebrother, the Vicar's white-haired 
mother, befrilled and kerchiefed with dainty cleanliness, up- 
right, quick-eyed, and still under seventy ; Miss Noble, her 
sister, a tiny old lady of meeker aspect, with frills and ker- 
chief decidedly more worn and mended ; and Miss Winifred 
Farebrother, the Vicar's elder sister, well-looking like himself, 
but nipped and subdued as single women are apt to be who 
spend their lives in uninterrupted subjection to their elders. 
Lydgate had not expected to see so quaint a group : knowing 
simply that Mr. Farebrother was a bachelor, he had thought of 
being ushered into a snuggery where the chief furniture would 
probably be books and collections of natural objects. The 
Vicar himself seemed to wear rather a changed aspect, as most 
men do when acquaintances made elsewhere see them for the 
first time in their own homes ; some indeed showing like an 
actor of genial parts disadvantageously cast for the curmud- 
geon in a new piece. This was not the case w4th Mr. Fare- 
brother : he seemed a trifle milder and more silent, the chief 
talker being his mother, while he only put in a good-humored 
moderating remark here and there. The old lady was evi- 
dently accustomed to tell her company what they ought to 
think, and to regard no subject as quite safe without her steer- 
ing. She was afforded leisure for this function by having all 
her little wants attended to by Miss Winifred. Meanwhile 
tiny Miss Noble carried on her arm a small basket, into which 
she diverted a bit of sugar, which she had first dropped in her 



176 MIDDLEMARCH. 

saucer as if by mistake ; looking round furtively afterwards, 
and reverting to her teacup with a small innocent noise as 
of a tiny timid quadruped. Pray think no ill of Miss Noble. 
That basket held small savings from her more portable food, 
destined for the children of her poor friends among whom she 
trotted on fine mornings ; fostering and petting all needy crea- 
tures being so spontaneous a delight to her, that she regarded 
it much as if it had been a pleasant vice that she was addicted 
to. Perhaps she was conscious of being tempted to steal from 
those who had much that she might give to those who had 
nothing, and carried in her conscience the guilt of that re- 
pressed desire. One must be poor to know the luxury of 
giving ! 

Mrs. Farebrother welcomed the guest with a lively formality 
and precision. She presently informed him that they were 
not often in want of medical aid in that house. She had 
brought up her children to wear flannel and not to over-eat 
themselves, which last habit she considered the chief reason 
why people needed doctors. Lydgate pleaded for those whose 
fathers and mothers had over-eaten themselves, but Mrs. Fare- 
brother held that view of things dangerous : Nature was more 
just than that ; it would be easy for any felon to say that his 
ancestors ought to have been hanged instead of him. If those 
who had bad fathers and mothers were bad themselves, they 
were hanged for that. There was no need to go back on what 
you could n't see. 

'^ My mother is like old George the Third," said the Vicar, 
''she objects to metaphysics." 

"I object to what is wrong, Camden. I say, keep hold of 
a few plain truths, and make everything square with them. 
When I was young, Mr. Lydgate, there never was any ques- 
tion about right and wrong. We knew our catechism, and 
that was enough ; we learned our creed and our ^wty. Every 
respectable Church person had the same opinions. But now, 
if you speak out of the Prayer-book itself, you are liable to be 
contradicted." 

" That makes rather a pleasant time of it for those who like 
to maintain their own point," said Lydgate. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 177 

" But my mother always gives way," said the Vicav, slyly. 

"Xo, no, Camden, yon must not lead Mr. Lydgate into a 
mistake about me. I shall never show that disrespect to my 
parents, to give up what they taught me. Any one may see 
what comes of turning. If you change once, why not twenty 
times ? " 

" A man might see good arguments for changing once, and 
not see them for changing again," said Lydgate, amused with 
the decisive old lady. 

"Excuse me there. If you go upon arguments, they are 
never wanting, when a man has no constancy of mind. My 
father never changed, and he preached plain moral sermons 
without arguments, and was a good man — few better. When 
you get me a good man made out of arguments, I will get you 
a good dinner witli reading you the cookery-book. That 's my 
opinion, and I think anybody's stomach will bear me out." 

" About the dinner certainly, mother," said Mr. Farebrother. 

"It is the same thing, the dinner or the man. I am nearly 
seventy, Mr. Lydgate, and I go upon experience. I am not 
likely to follow new lights, though there are plenty of them 
here as elsewhere. I say, they came in with the mixed stuffs 
that will neither wash nor wear. It was not so in my youth : 
a Churchman was a Churchman, and a clergyman, you might 
be pretty sure, was a gentleman, if nothing else. But now he 
may be no better than a Dissenter, and want to push aside my 
son on pretence of doctrine. But whoever may wish to push 
him aside, I am proud to say. Mi-. Lydgate, that he will com- 
pare with any preacher in this kingdom, not to speak of this 
town, which is but a low standard to go by ; at least, to my 
thinking, for I was born and bred at Exeter." 

" A mother is never partial," said Mr. Farebrother, smiling. 
" What do you think Tyke's mother says about him ? " 

" Ah, poor creature ! what indeed ? " said ^Irs. Farebrother, 
her sharpness blunted for the moment by her confidence in 
maternal judgments. "She saj'S the truth to herself, depend 
upon it." 

"And what is the truth ? " said Lydgate. " I am curious 
to know." 

VOL. VII. 12 



178 MIDDLEMARCH. 

*' Oh, nothing bad at all/' said Mr. Farebrother. " He is a 
zealous fellow : not very learned, and not very wise, I think — 
because I don't agree with him." 

" Why, Camden ! " said Miss Winifred, " Griffin and his wife 
told me only to-day, that Mr. Tyke said they should have no 
more coals if they came to hear you preach." 

Mrs. Farebrother laid down her knitting, which she had re- 
sumed after her small allowance of tea and toast, and looked at 
her son as if to say " You hear that ? " Miss Noble said, " Oh, 
poor things ! poor things ! " in reference, probably, to the double 
loss of preaching and coal. But the Vicar answered quietly — 

" That is because they are not my parishioners. And I 
don't think my sermons are worth a load of coals to them." 

" Mr. Lydgate," said Mrs. Farebrother, who could not let 
this pass, ••' you don't know my son : he always undervalues 
himself. I tell him he is undervaluing the God who made him, 
and made him a most excellent preacher." 

" That must be a hint for me to take Mr. Lydgate away to 
my study, mother," said the Vicar, laughing. " I promised to 
show you my collection," he added, turning to Lj^lgate ; " shall 
we go ? " 

All three ladies remonstrated. Mr. Lydgate ought not to 
be hurried away Avithout being allowed to accept another cup 
of tea : Miss Winifred had abundance of good tea in the pot. 
Why was Camden in such haste to take a visitor to his den ? 
There was nothing but pickled vermin, and drawers full of 
blue-bottles and moths, with no carpet on the floor. Mr. Lyd- 
gate must excuse it. A game at cribbage would be far better. 
In short, it was plain that a vicar might be adored by his 
womankind as the king of men and preachers, and yet be held 
by them to stand in much need of their direction. Lydgate, 
with the usual shallowness of a young bachelor, wondered that 
Mr. Farebrother had not taught them better. 

" My mother is not used to my having visitors who can take 
any interest in my hobbies," said the Vicar, as he opened the 
door of his stud}^, which was indeed as bare of luxuries for the 
body as the ladies had implied, unless a short porcelain pipe 
and a tobacco-box were to be excepted. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 179 

" Men of your profession don't generally smoke," he said. 
Lydgate smiled and shook his head. "Isot of mine either, 
properly, I suppose. You will hear that pipe alleged against 
me by Bulstrode and Company. They don't know how jjleased 
the devil would be if I gave it up.'' 

" I understand. Y^ou are of an excitable temper and want a 
sedative. I am heavier, and should get idle with it. I should 
rush into idleness, and stagnate there with all my might." 

" And you mean to give it all to your work. I am some ten 
or twelve years older than you,, and have come to a compro- 
mise. I feed a weakness or two lest they should get clam- 
orous. See," continued the Vicar, opening several small 
drawers, " I fancy I have made an exhaustive study of the 
entomology of this district. I am going on both with the fauna 
and flora ; but I have at least done my insects well. We are 
singularly rich in orthoptera : I don't know whether — Ah ! 
you have got hold of that glass jar — you are looking into that 
instead of my drawers. Y^ou don't really care about these 
things ? " 

"Xot by the side of this lovely anencephalous monster. I 
have never had time to give myself much to natural history. 
I was early bitten with an interest in structure, and it is what 
lies most directly in my profession. I have no hobby besides. 
I have the sea to swim in there." 

" Ah ! you are a happy fellow," said iVIr. Farebrother, turn- 
ing on his heel and beginning to fill his pipe. "You don't 
know what it is to want spiritual tobacco — bad emendations 
of old texts, or small items about a variety of Jj^his Brassicce, 
with the well-known signature of Philomicron, for the ' Twad- 
dler's Magazine ; ' or a learned treatise on the entomology of 
the Pentateuch, including all the insects not mentioned, but 
probably met with by the Israelites in their passage through 
the desert ; with a monograph on the Ant, as treated by Solo- 
mon, showing the harmony of the Book of Proverbs with the 
results of modern research. Y"ou don't mind my fumigating 
you ? " 

Lydgate was more surprised at the openness of this talk 
than at its implied meaning — that the Vicar felt himself not 



180 MIDDLE MARCH. 

altogether in the right vocation. The neat fitting-up of drawers 
and shelves, and the bookcase filled with expensive illustrated 
books on Natural History, made him think again of the win- 
nings at cards and their destination. But he was beginning to 
wish that the very best construction of everything that Mr. 
Farebrother did should be the true one. The Vicar's frankness 
seemed not of the repulsive sort that comes from an uneasy 
consciousness seeking to forestall the judgment of others, but 
simply the relief of a desire to do with as little pretence as 
possible. Apparently he was not without a sense that his 
freedom of speech might seem premature, for he presently 
said — 

" I have not yet told you that I have the advantage of you, 
Mr. Lydgate, and know you better than you know me. You 
remember Trawley who shared your apartment at Paris for 
some time ? I was a correspondent of his, and he told me a 
good deal about you. I was not quite sure when you first 
came that you were the same man. I was very glad when I 
found that you were. Only I don't forget that you have not 
had the like prologue about me." 

Lydgate divined some delicacy of feeling here, but did not 
half understand it. " By the way," he said, ^' what has become 
of Trawley ? I have quite lost sight of him. He was hot on 
the French social systems, and talked of going to the Back- 
woods to found a sort of Pythagorean community. Is he 
gone ? " 

" Not at all. He is practising at a German bath, and has 
married a rich patient." 

" Then my notions wear the best, so far," said Lydgate, with 
a short scornful laugh. " He would have it, the medical pro- 
fession was an inevitable system of humbug. I said, the fault 
was in the men — men who truckle to lies and folly. Instead 
of preaching against humbug outside the walls, it might be 
better to set up a disinfecting apparatus within. In short — 
I am reporting my own conversation — you may be sure I had 
all the good sense on my side." 

"Your scheme is a good deal more difficult to carry out than 
the Pythagorean community, though. You have not only got 



OLD AND YOUNG. 181 

the old Adam in yourself against you, but you have got all 
those descendants of the original Adam who form the society 
around you. You see, I have paid twelve or thirteen years 
more than you for my knowledge of difficulties. But " — ^Mr. 
Farebrother broke off a moment, and then added, "you are 
eying that glass vase again. Do you want to make an ex- 
change ? You shall not have it without a fair barter." 

"I have some sea-mice — fine specimens — in spirits. And 
I will throw in Robert Brown's new thing — 'Microscopic Ob- 
servations on the Pollen of Plants ' — if you don't happen to 
have it already." 

" Why, seeing how you long for the monster, I might ask a 
higher price. Suppose I ask you to look through my drawers 
and agree with me about all my new species ? " The Vicar, 
while he talked in this way, alternately moved about with his 
pipe in his mouth, and returned to hang rather fondly over 
his drawers. " That would be good discipline, you know, for 
a young doctor who has to please his patients in Middlemarch. 
You must learn to be bored, remember. However, you shall 
have the monster on your own terms." 

" Don't you think men overrate the necessity for humoring 
everybody's nonsense, till they get despised by the very fools 
they humor ? " said Lydgate, moving to Mr. Farebrother's 
side, and looking rather absently at the insects ranged in fine 
gradation, with names subscribed in exquisite writing. " The 
shortest way is to make your value felt, so that people must 
put up with you whether you flatter them or not." 

'' With all my heart. But then you must be sure of having 
the value, and you must keep yourself independent. Very 
few men can do that. Either you slip out of service alto- 
gether, and become good for nothing, or 3-ou wear the harness 
and draw a good deal where your yoke-fellows pull you. But 
do look at these delicate orthoptera ! " 

Lydgate had after all to give some scrutiny to each drawer, 
the Vicar laughing at himself, and yet persisting in the 
exhibition. 

" Apropos of what you said about wearing harness," Lyd- 
gate began, after they had sat down. " I made up m}^ mind 



182 MTDDLEMARCH. 

some time ago to do with as little of it as possible. That was 
why I determined not to try anything in London, for a good 
many years at least. I did n't like what I saw when I was 
studying there — so much empty bigwiggism, and obstructive 
trickery. In the country, people have less pretension to 
knowledge, and are less of companions, but for that reason 
they affect one's amour-propre less : one makes less bad blood, 
and can follow one's own course more quietly." 

" Yes — well — you have got a good start ; you are in the 
right profession, the work you feel yourself most fit for. 
Some people miss that, and repent too late. But you must 
not be too sure of keeping your independence." 

" You mean of family ties ? " said Lydgate, conceiving that 
these might press rather tightly on Mr. Farebrother. 

"Not altogether. Of course they make many things more 
difficult. But a good wife — a good unworldly woman — may 
really help a man, and keep him more independent. There 's 
a parishioner of mine — a fine fellow, but who would hardly 
have pulled through as he has done Avithout his wife. Do 
you know the Garths ? I think they were not Peacock's 
patients." 

" No ; but there is a Miss Garth at old Featherstone's, at 
Lowick." 

" Their daughter : an excellent girl." 

" She is very quiet — I have hardly noticed her." 

" She has taken notice of you, though, depend upon it." 

''I don't understand," said Lydgate; he could hardly say 
" Of course." 

" Oh, she gauges everybody. I prepared her for confirma- 
tion — she is a favorite of mine." 

Mr. Farebrother puffed a few moments in silence, Lydgate 
not caring to know more about the Garths. At last the Vicar 
laid down his pipe, stretched out his legs, and turned his 
bright eyes with a smile towards Lydgate, saying — 

" But we Middlemarchers are not so tame as you take us to 
be. We have our intrigues and our parties. I am a party 
man, for example, and Bulstrode is another. If you vote for 
me vou will offend Bulstrode." 



OLD AND YOUNG. 183 

f ' AVliat is there against Bulstrode ? ' ' said Lydgate, em- 
phatically. 

'^I did not say there was anything against him except 
that. If you vote against him you will make him your 
enemy." 

'' I don't know that I need mind about that," said Lydgate, 
rather proudly ; ^- but he seems to have good ideas about hospi- 
tals, and he spends large sums on useful public objects. He 
might help me a good deal in carrying out my ideas. As to 
his religious notions — why, as Voltaire said, incantations will 
destroy a flock of sheep if administered with a certain quan- 
tity of arsenic. I look for the man who will bring the arsenic, 
and don't mind about his incantations." 

" Very good. But then you must not offend your arsenic- 
man. You will not offend me, you know," said Mr. Farebrother, 
quite unaffectedly. " I don't translate my own convenience 
into other people's duties. I am opposed to Bulstrode in many 
ways. I don't like the set he belongs to : they are a narrow 
ignorant set, and do more to make their neighbors uncomfort- 
able than to make them better. Their system is a sort of 
worldly-spiritual cliqueism : they really look on the rest of 
mankind as a doomed carcass which is to nourish them for 
heaven. But," he added, smilingly, " I don't say that Bul- 
strode's new hospital is a bad thing ; and as to his wanting to 
oust me from the old one — why, if he thinks me a mischievous 
fellow, he is only returning a compliment. And 1 am not a 
model clergyman — only a decent makeshift." 

Lydgate was not at all sure that the Vicar maligned himself. 
A model clergyman, like a model doctor, ought to think his own 
23rofession the finest in the world, and take all knowledge as 
mere nourishment to his moral pathology and therapeutics. 
He only said, " What reason does Bulstrode give for supersed- 
ing you ? " 

"That I don't teach his opinions — which he calls spiritual 
religion ; and that I liave no time to spare. Both statements 
are true. But then I could make time, and I should be glad 
of the forty pounds. That is the plain fact of the case. But 
let us dismiss it. I only wanted to tell you that if you vote 



184 MIDDLExMARCH. 

for your arsenic-man, you are not to cut me in consequence. 
I can't spare you. You are a sort of circumnavigator come to 
settle among us, and will keep up my belief in the antipodes. 
Now tell me all about tliem in Paris." 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

" Oh, sir, the loftiest hopes on earth 
Draw lots with meaner hopes : heroic breasts. 
Breathing bad air, run risk of pestilence ; 
Or, lacking lime-juice when they cross the Line, 
May languish with the scurvy." 

Some weeks passed after this conversation before the ques- 
tion of the chaplaincy gathered any practical import for 
Lydgate, and without telling himself the reason, he deferred 
the predetermination on which side he should give his vote. 
It w^ould really have been a matter of total indifference to 
him — that is to say, he would have taken the more conven- 
ient side, and given his vote for the appointment of Tyke 
without any hesitation — if he had not cared personally for 
Mr. Farebrother. 

But his liking for the Vicar of St. Botolph's grew with 
growing acquaintanceship. That, entering into Lydgate's 
position as a new-comer who had his own professional objects 
to secure, Mr. Farebrother should have taken pains rather to 
Avarn off than to obtain his interest, showed an unusual deli- 
cacy and generosity, which Lydgate's nature was keenly alive 
to. It went along with other points of conduct in Mr. Fare- 
brother which were exceptionally fine, and made his character 
resemble those southern landscapes which seem divided be- 
tween natural grandeur and social slovenliness. Very few 
men could have been as filial and chivalrous as he was to the 
mother, aunt, and sister, whose dependence on him had iu 
many ways shaped his life rather uneasily for himself; few 



OLD AND YOUNG. 185 

men who feel the pressure of small needs are so nobly resolute 
not to dress up their inevitabl}^ self-interested desires in a 
pretext of better motives. In these matters he was conscious 
that his life would bear the closest scrutiny ; and perhaps the 
consciousness encouraged a little defiance towards the critical 
strictness of persons whose celestial intimacies seemed not to 
improve their domestic manners, and whose lofty aims were 
not needed to account for their actions. Then, his preaching 
was ingenious and pithy, like the preaching of the English 
Church in its robust age, and his sermons were delivered with- 
out book. People outside his parish went to hear him ; and, 
since to fill the church was always tlie most difficult part of 
a clergyman's function, here was another ground for a careless 
sense of superiority. Besides, he was a likable man : sweet- 
tempered, ready-witted, frank, without grins of suppressed 
bitterness or other conversational flavors which make half of 
us an affliction to our friends. Lydgate liked him heartily, 
and wished for his friendship. 

With this feeling uppermost, he continued to waive the 
question of the chaplaincy, and to persuade himself that it 
was not only no proper business of his, but likely enough 
never to vex him with a demand for his vote. Lydgate, at 
Mr. Bulstrode's request, was laying down plans for the inter- 
nal arrangements of the new hospital, and the tw^o were often 
in consultation. The banker was always presupposing that 
he could count in general on Lydgate as a coadjutor, but made 
no special recurrence to the coming decision between Tyke 
and Farebrother. When the General Board of the Infirmary 
had met, however, and Lydgate had notice that the question 
of the chaplaincy was thrown on a council of the directors and 
medical men, to meet on the following Friday, he had a vexed 
sense that he must make up his mind on this trivial ^Middle- 
march business. He could not help hearing within him the 
distinct declaration that Bulstrode was prime minister, and 
that the Tyke affair was a question of office or no office ; and 
he could not help an equally pronounced dislike to giving 
up the prospect of office. For his observation was constantly 
confirming Mr. Farebrother's assurance that the banker would 



186 MIDDLEMARCH. 

not overlook opposition. ''' Confound their petty politics ! " 
was one of his thoughts for three mornings in the meditative 
"process of shaving, when he had begun to feel that he must 
really hold a court of conscience on this matter. Certainly 
there were valid things to be said aga-inst the election of Mr. 
Farebrother : he had too much on his hands already, especially 
considering how much time he spent on non-clerical occupa- 
tions. Then again it was a continually repeated shock, dis- 
turbing Lydgate's esteem, that the Vicar should obviously 
play for the sake of money, liking the play indeed, but evi- 
dently liking some end which it served. Mr. Farebrother 
contended on theory for the desirability of all games, and said 
that Englishmen's wit was stagnant for want of them ; but 
Lydgate felt certain that he would have played very much 
less but for the money. There was a billiard-room at the 
Green Dragon, which some anxious mothers and wives re- 
garded as the chief temptation in Middlemarch. The Yicar 
was a first-rate billiard-player, and though he did not frequent 
the Green Dragon, there were reports that he had sometimes 
been there in the daytime and had won money. And as to 
the chaplaincy, he did not pretend that he cared for it, except 
for the sake of the forty pounds. Lydgate was no Puritan, 
but he did not care for play, and winning money at it had 
always seemed a meanness to him ; besides, he had an ideal 
of life which made this subservience of conduct to the gaining 
of small sums' thoroughly hateful to him. Hitherto in his 
own life his wants had been supplied without any trouble to 
himself, and his first impulse was always to be liberal with 
half-crowns as matters of no importance to a gentleman ; it 
had never occurred to him to devise a plan for getting half- 
crowns. He had always known in a general way that he was 
not rich, but he had never felt poor, and he had no power of 
imagining the part which the want of money plays in deter- 
mining the actions of men. Money had never been a motive 
to him. Hence he was not ready to frame excuses for this 
deliberate pursuit of small gains. It was altogether repulsive 
to him, and he never entered into any calculation of the ratio 
between the Vicar's income and his more or less necessary 



OLD AND YOUNG. 187 

expenditure. It was possible that lie would not have made 
such a calculation in his own case. 

And now, when the question of voting had come, this repul-^ 
sive fact told more strongly against Mr. Farebrother than it 
had done before. One would know much better what to do if 
men's characters were more consistent, and especially if one's 
friends Avere invariably fit for any function they desired to un 
dertake ! Lydgate was convinced that if there had been no 
valid objection to Mr. Farebrother, he would have voted for 
hiin, whatever Bulstrode might have felt on the subject : he 
did not intend to be a vassal of Bulstrode's. On the other hand, 
there was Tyke, a man entirely given to his clerical office, wdio 
was simply curate at a chapel of ease in St. Peter's parish, and 
had time for extra duty. Nobody had anything to say against 
Mr. Tyke, except that they could not bear him, and suspected 
him of cant. Really, from his point of view, Bulstrode was 
thoroughly justified. 

But whichever way Lydgate began to incline, there was 
something to make him wince ; and being a proud man, he 
was a little exasperated at being obliged to wince. He did 
not like frustrating his own best purposes by getting on 
bad terms with Bulstrode ; he did not like voting against 
Farebrother, and helping to deprive him of function and 
salary ; and the question occurred whether the additional 
forty pounds might not leave the Vicar free from that igno- 
ble care about winning at cards. IVIoreover, Lydgate did not 
like the consciousness that in voting for Tyke he should 
be voting on the side obviously convenient for himself. But 
would the end really be his own convenience ? Other peo- 
ple would say so, and would allege that he was currying 
favor with Bulstrode for the sake of making himself important 
and getting on in the world. What then ? He for his own 
part knew that if his personal prospects simply bad been con- 
cerned, he would not have cared a rotten nut for the banker's 
friendship or enmity. What he really cared for was a me- 
dium for his work, a vehicle for his ideas ; and after all, was 
he not bound to prefer the object of getting a good hospital, 
where he could demonstrate the specific distinctions of fever 



188 MIDDLEMARCH. 

and test therapeutic results, before anything else connected 
with this chaplaincy ? For the first time Lydgate was feeling 
the hampering threadlike pressure of small social conditions, 
and their frustrating complexity. At the end of his inward 
debate, when he set out for the hospital, his hope was really 
in the chance that discussion might somehow give a new aspect 
to the question, and make the scale dip so as to exclude the 
necessity for voting. I think he trusted a little also to the 
energy which is begotten by circumstances — some feeling 
rushing warmly and making resolve easy, while debate in cool 
blood had only made it more difficult. However it was, he did 
not distinctly say to himself on which side he would vote ; and 
all the while he was inwardly resenting the subjection which 
had been forced upon him. It would have seemed beforehand 
like a ridiculous piece of bad logic that he, with his unmixed 
resolutions of independence and his select purposes, would find 
himself at the very outset in the grasp of petty alternatives, 
each of which was repugnant to him. In his student's cham- 
bers, he had prearranged his social action quite differently. 

Lydgate was late in setting out, but Dr. Sprague, the two 
other surgeons, and several of the directors had arrived early ; 
Mr. Bulstrode, treasurer and chairman, being among those who 
were still absent. The conversation seemed to imply that the 
issue was problematical, and that a majority for Tyke was not 
so certain as had been generally supposed. The two X->hysi- 
cians, for a wonder, turned out to be unanimous, or rather, 
though of different minds, they concurred in action. Dr. 
Sprague, the rugged and weighty, was, as every one had fore- 
seen, an adherent of Mr. Farebrother. The Doctor was more 
than suspected of having no religion, but somehow Middle- 
march tolerated this deficiency in him as if he had been a Lord 
Chancellor ; indeed it is probable that his professional weight 
was the more believed in, the world-old association of clever- 
ness with the evil principle being still potent in the minds 
even of lady-patients who had the strictest ideas of frilling 
and sentiment. It was perhaps this negation in the Doctor 
which made his neighbors call him hard-headed and dry-witted ; 
conditions of texture which were also held favorable to the 



OLD AND YOUNG. 189 

storing of judgments connected with drugs. At all events, it 
is certain that if any medical man had come to Middlemarch 
with the reputation of having very definite religious views, of 
being given to praj^er, and of otherwise showing an active 
piety, there would have been a general presumption against his 
medical skill. 

On this ground it was (professionally speaking) fortunate for 
Dr. Minchin that his religious sympathies were of a general 
kind, and such as gave a distant medical sanction to all serious 
sentiment, whether of Church or Dissent, rather than any ad- 
hesion to particular tenets. If Mr. Bulstrode insisted, as he 
was apt to do, on the Lutheran doctrine of justification, as that 
by w^hich a Church must stand or fall. Dr. Minchin in return 
was quite sure that man was not a mere machine or a fortui- 
tous conjunction of atoms ; if Mrs. Wimple insisted on a par- 
ticular providence in relation to her stomach complaint, Dr. 
Minchin for his part liked to keep the mental windows open 
and objected to fixed limits; if the Unitarian brewer jested 
about the Athanasian Creed, Dr. Minchin quoted Pope's " Essay 
on Man." He objected to the rather free style of anecdote in 
which Dr. Sprague indulged, preferring well-sanctioned quota- 
tions, and liking refinement of all kinds : it was generally 
known that he had some kinship to a bishop, and sometimes 
spent his holidays at " the palace." 

Dr. Minchin was soft-handed, pale-complexioned, and of 
rounded outline, not to be distinguished from a mild clergyman 
in appearance : whereas Dr. Sprague was superfluously tall ; 
his trousers got creased at the knees, and showed an excess of 
boot at a time when straps seemed necessary to any dignity of 
bearing ; j^ou heard him go in and out, and up and down, as if 
he had come to see after the roofing. In short, he had weight, 
and might be expected to grapple with a disease and throw it ; 
while Dr. Minchin might be better able to detect it lurking and 
to circumvent it. They enjo3^ed about equally the mysterious 
privilege of medical reputation, and concealed with much eti- 
quette their contempt for each other's skill. Regarding them- 
selves as Middlemarch institutions, they were ready to combine 
against all innovators, and against non-professionals given to 



190 MIDDLEMAECH. 

interference. On this ground tliey were botli in their hearts 
equally averse to Mr. Bulstrode, though Dr. IMinchin had never 
been in open hostility with him, and never differed from him 
without elaborate explanation to Mrs. Bulstrode, who had found 
that Dr. Minchin alone understood her constitution. A lay- 
man who pried into the professional conduct of medical men, 
and was always obtruding his reforms, — though he was less 
directly embarrassing to the two phj^sicians than to the sur- 
geon apothecaries who attended paupers by contract, was never- 
theless offensive to the professional nostril as such ; and Dr. 
Minchin shared fully in the new pique against Bulstrode, ex- 
cited by his apparent determination to patronize Lydgate. 
The long-established practitioners, Mr. Wrench and Mr. Toller, 
were just now standing apart and having a friendly colloquy, 
in which they agreed that Lydgate was a jackanapes, just 
made to serve Bulstrode's purpose. To non-medical friends 
they had already concurred in praising the other young practi- 
tioner, who had come into the town on Mr. Peacock's retire- 
ment without further recommendation than his own merits 
and such argument for solid professional acquirement as might 
be gathered from his having apparently wasted no time on 
other branches of knowledge. It was clear that Lydgate, by 
not dispensing drugs, intended to cast imputations on his 
equals, and also to obscure the limit between his own rank as 
a general practitioner and that of the physicians, who, in the 
interest of the profession, felt bound to maintain its various 
grades, — especially against a man Avho had not been to either 
of the English universities and enjoyed the absence of anatom- 
ical and bedside study there, but came with a libellous preten- 
sion to experience in Edinburgh and Paris, where observation 
might be abundant indeed, but hardly sound. 

Thus it happened that on this occasion Bulstrode became 
identified with Lydgate, and Lydgate with Tyke ; and owing 
to this variety of interchangeable names for the chaplaincy 
question, diverse minds were enabled to form the same judg- 
ment concerning it. 

Dr. Sprague said at once bluntly to the group assembled 
when he entered, "I go for Farebrother. A salary, with all 



OLD AND YOUXG. 191 

my heart. But why take it from the Vicar ? He has none too 
much — has to insure his life, besides keeping house, and doing 
a vicar's charities. Put forty pounds in his pocket and you '11 
do no harm. He 's a good fellow, is Farebrother, with as little 
of the parson about him as will serve to carry orders." 

" Ho, ho ! Doctor," said old j\Ir. Powderell, a retired iron- 
monger of some standing — his interjection being something 
between a laugh and a Parliamentary disapproval ; " we must 
let you have your say. But what we have to consider is not 
anybody's income — it 's the souls of the poor sick people " — 
here Mr. Powderell's voice and face had a sincere pathos in 
them. " He is a real Gospel preacher, is Mr. Tyke. I should 
vote against my conscience if I voted against Mr. Tyke — I 
should indeed." 

" Mr. Tyke's opponents have not asked any one to vote 
against his conscience, I believe," said ]Mr. Hackbutt, a rich 
tanner of fluent speech, whose glittering spectacles and erect 
hair were turned with some severity towards innocent Mr. 
Powderell. " But in my judgment it behoves us, as Direc- 
tors, to consider whether we will regard it as our whole busi- 
ness to carry out propositions emanating from a single quarter. 
Will any member of the committee aver that he would have 
entertained the idea of displacing the gentleman who has 
always discharged the function of chaplain here, if it had not 
been suggested to him by parties whose disposition it is to 
regard every institution of this town as a machinery for carry- 
ing out their own views ? I tax no man's motives : let them 
lie between himself and a higher Power ; but I do say, that 
there are influences at work here which are incompatible 
with genuine independence, and that a crawling servility is 
usually dictated by circumstances which gentlemen so con- 
ducting themselves could not afford either morally or finan- 
cially to avow. I myself am a layman, but I have given 
no inconsiderable attention to the divisions in the Church 
and — " 

" Oh, damn the divisions ! " burst in Mr. Frank Hawley, 
lawyer and town-clerk, who rarely presented himself at the 
board, but now looked in hurriedly, whip in hand. " We have 



192 MIDDLEMARCH. 

nothing to do with them here. Farebrother has been doing 
the work — what there was — without pa}^, and if pay is to 
be given, it shoukl be given to him. I call it a confounded 
job to take the thing away from Farebrother." 

"1 think it would be as well for gentlemen not to give their 
remarks a personal bearing," said Mr. Plymdale. " I shall 
vote for the appointment of Mr. Tyke, but I should not have 
known, if Mr. Hackbutt had n't hinted it, that I was a Servile 
Crawler." 

" I disclaim any personalities. I expressly said, if I may 
be allowed to repeat, or even to conclude what I was about 
to say — " 

" Ah, here 's IVIinchin ! " said Mr. Frank Hawley ; at which 
everybody turned away from Mr. Hackbutt, leaving him to 
feel the uselessness of superior gifts in Middlemarch. " Come, 
Doctor, I must have you on the right side, eh ? " 

" I hope so," said Dr. Minchin, nodding and shaking hands 
here and there ; " at whatever cost to my feelings." 

" If there 's an}'' feeling here, it should be feeling for the 
man who is turned out, I think," said Mr. Frank Hawley. 

" I confess I have feelings on the other side also. I have 
a divided esteem," said Dr. Minchin, rubbing his hands. " I 
consider JMr. Tyke an exemplary man — none more so — and 
I believe him to be proposed from unimpeachable motives. 
I, for my part, w^ish that I could give him my vote. But I 
am constrained to take a view of the case w^iich gives the pre- 
ponderance to Mr. Farebrother's claims. He is an amiable 
man, an able preacher, and has been longer among us." 

Old Mr. Powderell looked on, sad and silent. Mr. Plymdale 
settled his cravat, uneasily. 

" You don't set up Farebrother as a pattern of what a 
clergyman ought to be, I hope," said Mr. Larcher, the eminent 
carrier, who had just come in. ''I have no ill-will towards 
him, but I think we owe something to the public, not to speak 
of anything higher, in these appointments. In my opinion 
Farebrother is too lax for a clergyman. I don't wish to bring 
up particulars against him ; bat he will make a little attend- 
ance here go as far as he can." 



OLD AXD YOUNG. 193 

'•And a devilish deal better than too much," said Mr. 
Hawley, whose bad language was notorious in that part of 
the county. '' Sick people can't bear so much praying and 
preaching. And that methodistical sort of religion is bad for 
the spirits — bad for the inside, eh?" he added, turning 
quickly round to the four medical men who were assembled. 

But any answer was dispensed with by the entrance of 
three gentlemen, with whom there were greetings more or less 
cordial. These were the Eeverend Edward Thesiger, Rector 
of St. Peter's, Mr. Bulstrode, and our friend Mr. Brooke of 
Tipton, who had lately allowed himself to be put on the board 
of directors in his turn, but had never before attended, his 
attendance now being due to Mr. Bulstrode's exertions. Lyd- 
gate was the only person still expected. 

Every one now sat down, Mr. Bulstrode presiding, pale and 
self-restrained as usual. Mr. Thesiger, a moderate evangelical, 
wished for the appointment of his friend Mr. Tyke, a zealous 
able man, who, officiating at a chapel of ease, had not a cure 
of souls too extensive to leave him ample time for the new 
duty. It was desirable that chaplaincies of this kind should 
be entered on with a fervent intention : they were peculiar 
opportunities for spiritual influence ; and while it was good 
that a salary should be allotted, there was the more need for 
scrupulous watching lest the office should be perverted into 
a mere question of salary. Mr. Thesiger's manner had so 
much quiet propriety that objectors could only simmer in 
silence. 

Mr. Brooke believed that everybody meant well in the mat- 
ter. He had not himself attended to the affairs of the In- 
firmary, though he had a strong interest in whatever was for 
the benefit of Middlemarch, and was most happy to meet the 
gentlemen present on any public question — "any public ques- 
tion, you know," Mr. Brooke repeated, with his nod of perfect 
understanding. " I am a good deal occupied as a magistrate, 
and in the collection of documentary evidence, but I regard 
my time as being at the disposal of the public — and, in short, 
my friends have convinced me that a chaplain with a salary 
— a salary, you know — is a very good thing, and I am happy 

VOL. VII. 13 



194 MIDDLEMARCH. 

to be able to come here and vote for the appointment of Mr. 
Tyke, who, I understand, is an unexceptionable man, apostolic 
and eloquent and everything of that kind — and I am the 
last man to withhold my vote — under the circumstances, you 
know." 

"It seems to me that you have been crammed with one 
side of the question, Mr. Brooke," said Mr. Frank Hawley, 
who was afraid of nobody, and was a Tory suspicious of elec- 
tioneering intentions. " You don't seem to know that one of 
the worthiest men we have has been doing duty as chaplain 
here for years without pay, and that Mr. Tyke is proposed 
to supersede him." 

" Excuse me, Mr. Hawley," said Mr. Bulstrode. " Mr. Brooke 
has been fully informed of Mr. Farebrother's character and 
position." 

" B}^ his enemies," flashed out Mr. Hawley. 

" I trust there is no personal hostility concerned here," 
said Mr. Thesiger. 

" I '11 swear there is, though," retorted Mr. Hawley. 

" Gentlemen," said Mr. Bulstrode, in a subdued tone, " the 
merits of the question may be very briefly stated, and if any 
one present doubts that every gentleman who is about to give 
his vote has not been fully informed, I can now recapitulate 
the considerations that should weigh on either side." 

"I don't see the good of that," said Mr. Hawley. "I sup- 
pose we all know whom we mean to vote for. Any man who 
wants to do justice does not wait till the last minute to hear 
both sides of the question. I have no time to lose, and I 
propose that the matter be put to the vote at once." 

A brief but still hot discussion followed before each per- 
son wrote " Tyke " or " Farebrother " on a piece of paper 
and slipped it into a glass tumbler ; and in the mean time 
Mr. Bulstrode saw Lydgate enter. 

"I perceive that the votes are equally divided at present," 
said Mr. Bulstrode, in a clear biting voice. Then, looking 
up at Lydgate — 

" There is a casting-vote still to be given. It is yours, Mr. 
Lydgate : will you be good enough to write ? " 



OLD AND YOUNG. 195 

" The thing is settled now," said Mr. Wrench, rising. " We 
all know how Mr. Lydgate will vote/"' 

" You seem to speak with some peculiar meaning, sir," 
said Lydgate, rather defiantly, and keeping his pencil sus- 
pended. 

" I merely mean that you are expected to vote with Mr. Bul- 
strode. Do you regard that meaning as offensive ? " 

" It may be offensive to others. But 1 shall not desist from 
voting with him on that account." 

Lydgate immediately wrote down " Tyke." 

So the Eev. Walter Tyke became chaplain to the Infirmary, 
and Lydgate continued to work with Mr. Bulstrode. He was 
really uncertain whether Tyke were not the more suitable 
candidate, and yet his consciousness told him that if he had 
been quite free from indirect bias he should have voted for 
Mr. Farebrother. The affair of the chaplaincy remained a 
sore point in his memory as a case in which this petty medium 
of Middlemarch had been too strong for him. How could a 
man be satisfied with a decision between such alternatives and 
under such circumstances ? No more than he can be satisfied 
with his hat, which he has chosen from among such shapes as 
the resources of the age offer him, wearing it at best with a 
resignation which is chiefly supported by comparison. 

But Mr. Farebrother met him with the same friendliness as 
before. The character of the publican and sinner is not 
always practically incompatible with that of the modern Phar- 
isee, for the majority of us scarcely see more distinctly the 
faultiness of our own conduct than the faultiness of our 
own arguments, or the dulness of our own jokes. But the 
Vicar of St. Botolph's had certainly escaped the slightest tinc- 
ture of the Pharisee, and by dint of admitting to himself that 
he was too much as other men were, he had become remark- 
ably unlike them in this — that he could excuse others for 
thinking slightly of him, and could judge impartially of their 
conduct even when it told against him. 

" The world has been too strong for jjie, I know," he said 
one day to Lydgate. " But then I am not a mighty man — 



196 MIDDLEMAECH. 

I shall never be a man of renown. The choice of Hercules 
is a pretty fable ; but Proclicus makes it easy work for the 
hero, as if the first resolves were enough. Another story 
says that he came to hold the distaff, and at last wore the 
Nessus shirt. I suppose one good resolve might keep a man 
right if everybody else's resolve helped him." 

The Vicar's talk was not always inspiriting: he had escaped 
being a Pharisee, but he had not escaped that low estimate of 
possibilities which we rather hastily arrive at as an inference 
from our own failure. Lydgate thought that there was a piti- 
able infirmity of will in Mr. Farebrother. 



CHAPTEE XIX. 

L' altra vedete ch' ha fatto alia guancia 
Delia sua palma, sospirando, letto. 

Purgatorio, vii. 

When George the Pourth was still reigning over the priva- 
cies of Windsor, when the Duke of Wellington was Prime 
Minister, and Mr. Vincy was mayor of the old corporation in 
Mjddlemarch, Mrs. Casaubon, born Dorothea Brooke, had 
taken her wedding journey to Kome. In those days the world 
in general was more ignorant of good and evil by forty years 
than it is at present. Travellers did not often carry full infor- 
mation on Christian art either in their heads or their pockets ; 
and even the most brilliant English critic of the day mistook 
the flower-flushed tomb of the ascended Virgin for an orna- 
mental vase due to the painter's fancy. Eomanticism, which 
has helped to fill some dull blanks with love and knowledge, 
had not yet penetrated the times with its leaven and entered 
into everybody's food; it was fermenting still as a distinguish- 
able vigorous enthusiasm in certain long-haired German artists 
at Eome, and the vouth of other nations who worked or 



OLD AND YOUNG. 197 

idled near them were sometimes caught in the spreading 
movement. 

One fine morning a young man whose hair was not immod- 
erately long, but abundant and curly, and who was otherwise 
English in his equipment, had just turned his back on the Bel- 
vedere Torso in the Vatican and was looking out on the mag. 
nificent view of the mountains from the adjoining round 
vestibule. He was sufficiently absorbed not to notice the 
approach of a dark-eyed, animated German who came up to 
him and placing a hand on his shoulder, said with a strong 
accent, " Come here, quick ! else she will have changed her 
pose." 

Quickness was ready at the call, and the two figures passed 
lightly along by the Meleager towards the hall where the re- 
clining Ariadne, then called the Cleopatra, lies in the marble 
voluptuousness of her beauty, the drapery folding around her 
with a petal-like ease and tenderness. They were just in 
time to see another figure standing against a pedestal near the 
reclining marble : a breathing blooming girl, whose form, not 
shamed by the Ariadne, was clad in Quakerish gray drapery ; 
her long cloak, fastened at the neck, was thrown backward 
from her arms, and one beautiful ungloved hand pillowed her 
cheek, pushing somewhat backward the white beaver bonnet 
which made a sort of halo to her face around the simply 
braided dark-brown hair. She was not looking at the sculpture, 
probably not thinking of it : her large eyes were fixed dream- 
ily on a streak of sunlight which fell across the floor. But 
she became conscious of the two strangers who suddenl}^ paused 
as if to contemplate the Cleopatra, and, without looking at them, 
immediately turned away to join a maid-servant and courier 
who were loitering along the hall at a little distance ofP. 

" What do you think of that for a fine bit of antithesis ? " 
said the German, searching in his friend's face for responding 
admiration, but going on volubly without waiting for any other 
answer. " There lies antique beauty, not corpse-like even in 
death, but arrested in the complete contentment of its sensu- 
ous perfection : and here stands beauty in its breathing life, 
with the consciousness of Christian centuries in its bosom. But 



198 MIDDLEMARCH. 

she should be dressed as a nun ; I think she looks almost what 
you call a Quaker ; I would dress her as a nun in my picture. 
How^ever, she is married; I saw her wedding-ring on that won- 
derful left hand, otherwise I should have thought the sallow 
Geistllcher was her father. I saw him parting from her a 
good while ago, and just now I found her in that magnificent 
pose. Only think ! he is perhaps rich, and would like to have 
her portrait taken. Ah ! it is no use looking after her — there 
she goes ! Let us follow her home ! '' 

" No, no," said, his companion, with a little frown. 

" You are singular, Ladislaw. You look struck together. 
Do you know her ? " 

"I know that she is married to my cousin,"' said Will Ladis- 
law, sauntering down the hall with a preoccupied air, while 
his German friend kept at his side and watched him eagerly. 

"What! the Geistlicher? He looks more like an uncle — 
a more useful sort of relation." 

" He is not my uncle. I tell you he is my second cousin," 
said Ladislaw, with some irritation'. 

" Schon, schon. Don't be snappish. You are not angry 
w4th me for thinking Mrs. Second-Cousin the most perfect 
young Madonna I ever saw ? " 

"Angry ? nonsense. I have only seen her once before, for 
a couple of minutes, when my cousin introduced her to me, 
just before I left England. They were not married then. I 
did n't know they were coming to Kome." 

" But you will go to see them now — you will find out what 
they have for an address — since you know the name. Shall 
we go to the post ? And you could speak about the portrait." 

" Confound you, Naumann ! I don't know what I shall do. 
I am not so brazen as you." 

"Bah! that is because you are dilettantish and amateurish. 
If you were an artist, you would think of Mistress Second- 
Cousin as antique form animated by Christian sentiment — 
a sort of Christian Antigone — sensuous force controlled by 
spiritual passion." 

"Yes, and that your painting her was the chief outcome of 
her existence — the divinity passing into higher completeness 



OLD AND YOUNG. 199 

and all but exhausted in the act of covering your bit of can- 
vas. I am amateurish if you like : I do not think that all the 
universe is straining towards the obscure significance of your 
pictures." 

"But it is, my dear! — so far as it is straining through me, 
Adolf Xaumann : that stands firm," said the good-natured paint- 
er, putting a hand on Ladislaw's shoulder, and not in the least 
disturbed by the unaccountable touch of ill-humor in his tone. 
'' See now ! My existence presupposes the existence of the 
whole universe — does it not? and my function is to paint — 
and as a painter I have a conception which is altogether geni- 
alisch, of your great-aunt or second grandmother as a subject 
for a picture; therefore, the universe is straining towards that 
picture through that particular hook or claw which it puts 
forth in the shape of me — not true ? " 

"But how if another claw in the shape of me is straining 
to thwart it ? — the case is a little less simple then." 

"]Srot at all: the result of the struggle is the same thing — 
picture or no picture — logically." 

Will could not resist this imperturbable temper, and the 
cloud in his face broke into sunshiny laughter. 

"Come now, my friend — you will help?" said Naumann, 
in a hopeful tone. 

"No; nonsense, Naumann! English ladies are not at every- 
body's service as models. And yow want to express too much 
with your painting. You would only have made a better or 
worse portrait with a background which every connoisseur 
would give a different reason for or against. And what is a 
portrait of a woman ? Y^our painting and Plastik are poor 
stuff after all. They perturb and dull conceptions instead of 
raising them. Language is a finer medium." 

"Y^es, for those who can't paint," said Naumann. "'There 
you have perfect right. I did not recommend you to paint, 
my friend." 

The amiable artist carried his sting, but Ladislaw did not 
choose to appear stung. He went on as if he had not heard. 

"Language gives a fuller image, which is all the better for 
being vague. After all, the true seeing is within ; and painting 



200 MIDDLEMARCH. 

stares at you with an insistent imperfection. I feel that es- 
pecially about representations of women. As if a woman were 
a mere colored superficies ! You must wait for movement 
and tone. There is a difference in their very breathing : they 
change from moment to moment. — This woman whom you 
have just seen, for example : how would you paint her voice, 
pray? But her voice is much diviner than anything you have 
seen of her.'' 

" I see, I see. You are jealous. No man must presume to 
think that he can paint your ideal. This is serious, my friend! 
Your great-aunt ! ^ Der Neffe als Onkel ' in a tragic sense — 
ungeheuer ! " 

" You and I shall quarrel, Naumann, if you call that lady 
my aunt again." 

" How is she to be called then ? " 

" Mrs. Casaubon." 

^' Good. Suppose I get acquainted with her in spite of you, 
and find that she very much wishes to be painted ? " 

" Yes, suppose ! " said Will Ladislaw, in a contemptuous 
undertone, intended to dismiss the subject. He was conscious 
of being irritated by ridiculously small causes, which were half 
of his own creation. Why was he making any fuss about Mrs. 
Casaubon ? And yet he felt as if something had happened to 
him with regard to her. There are characters which are con- 
tinually creating collisions and nodes for themselves in dramas 
which nobody is prepared to act with them. Their suscep- 
tibilities will clash against objects that remain innocently 
quiet. 




^liiilili at- 

Celia. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 201 



CHAPTEK XX. 

" A child forsaken, waking suddenly, 
Whose gaze afeard on all things round doth rove, 
And seeth only that it cannot see 
The meeting eyes of love." 

Two hours later, Dorothea was seated in an inner room or 
boudoir of a handsome apartment in the Via Sistina. 

I am sorry to add that she was sobbing bitterly, with such 
abandonment to this relief of an oppressed heart as a woman 
habitually controlled by pride on her own account and thought- 
fulness for others will sometimes allow herself when she feels 
securely alone. And ^Ir. Casaubon was certain to remain away 
for some time at the Vatican. 

Yet Dorothea had no distinctly shapen grievance that she 
could state even to herself ; and in the midst of her confused 
thought and passion, the mental act that was struggling forth 
into clearness was a self-accusing cry that her feeling of deso- 
lation was the fault of her own spiritual poverty. She had 
married the man of her choice, and with the advantage over 
most girls that she had contemplated her marriage chiefly as 
the beginning of new duties : from the very first she had 
thought of Mr. Casaubon as having a mind so much above 
her own, that he must often be claimed by studies which she 
could not entirely share ; moreover, after the brief narrow ex- 
perience of her girlhood she was beholding Rome, the city of 
visible history, where the past of a whole hemisphere seems 
moving in funeral procession with strange ancestral images 
and trophies gathered from afar. 

But this stupendous fragmentariness heightened the dream- 
like strangeness of her bridal life. Dorothea had now been 
five weeks in Home, and in the kindly mornings when autumn 
and winter seemed to go hand in hand like a happy aged cou- 
ple one of whom would presently survive in chiller loneliness, 
she had driven about at first with Mr. Casaubon, but of late 



202 MIDDLEMARCH. 

chiefly with Tantripp and their experienced courier. She had 
been led through the best galleries, had been taken to the 
chief points of view, had been shown the grandest ruins and 
the most glorious churches, and she had ended by oftenest 
choosing to drive out to the Campagna where she could feel 
alone with the earth and sky, away from the oppressive mas- 
querade of ages, in which her own life too seemed to become 
a masque with enigmatical costumes. 

To those who have looked at Eome with the quickening 
power of a knowledge which breathes a growing soul into all 
historic shapes, and traces out the suppressed transitions which 
unite all contrasts, Kome may still be the spiritual centre and 
interpreter of the world. But let them conceive one more 
historical contrast : the gigantic broken revelations of that 
Imperial and Papal city thrust abruptly on the notions of a 
girl who had been brought up in English and Swiss Puritan- 
ism, fed on meagre Protestant histories and on art chiefly of 
the hand-screen sort ; a girl whose ardent nature turned all 
her small allowance of knowledge into principles, fusing her 
actions into their mould, and whose quick emotions gave the 
most abstract things the qualit}" of a pleasure or a pain ; a girl 
who had lately become a wife, and from the enthusiastic accep- 
tance of untried duty found herself plunged in tumultuous pre- 
occupation with her personal lot. The weight of unintelligible 
Rome might lie easily on bright nymphs to whom it formed a 
background for the brilliant picnic of Anglo-foreign society ; 
but Dorothea had no such defence against deep impressions. 
Euins and basilicas, palaces and colossi, set in the midst of a 
sordid present, where all that was living and warm-blooded 
seemed sunk in the deep degeneracy of a superstition divorced 
from reverence ; the dimmer but yet eager Titanic life gazing 
and struggling on walls and ceilings ; the long vistas of white 
forms whose marble eyes seemed to hold the monotonous light 
of an alien world : all this vast wreck of ambitious ideals, sen- 
suous and spiritual, mixed confusedly with the signs of breath- 
ing forgetfulness and degradation, at flrst jarred her as with 
an electric shock, and then urged" themselves on her with that 
ache belonging to a glut of confused ideas which check the 



OLD AND YOUNG. 203 

flow of emotion. Forms both pale and glowing took posses- 
sion of her young sense, and fixed themselves in her memory 
even when she was not thinking of them, preparing strange 
associations which remained through her after-years. Our 
moods are apt to bring with them images which succeed each 
other like the magic-lantern pictures of a doze ; and in certain 
states of dull forlornness Dorothea all her life continued to 
see the vastness of St. Peter's, the huge bronze canopy, the 
excited intention in the attitudes and garments of the prophets 
and evangelists in the mosaics above, and the red drapery 
which was being hung for Christmas spreading itself every- 
where like a disease of the retina. 

Not that this inward amazement of Dorothea's was anything 
very exceptional : many souls in their young nudity are tum- 
bled out among incongruities and left to "find their feet" 
among them, while their elders go about their business. Nor 
can I suppose that when Mrs. Casaubon is discovered in a fit 
of weeping six weeks after her wedding, the situation will be 
regarded as tragic. Some discouragement, some faintness of 
heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is 
not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved 
by what is not unusual. That element of tragedy which lies in 
the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the 
coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could 
hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling 
of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass 
grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that 
roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the 
quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity. 

However, Dorothea was crying, and if she had been required 
to state the cause, she could only have done so in some such 
general words as I have already used : to have been driven to 
be more particular would have been like trying to give a his- 
tory of the lights and shadows ; for that new real future which 
was replacing the imaginary drew its material from the end- 
less minutiae by which her view of Mr. Casaubon and her 
wifely relation, now that she was married to him, was gradu- 
ally changing with the secret motion of a watch-hand from 



204 MIDDLEMARCH. 

what it had been in her maiden dream. It was too early yet 
for her fully to recognize or at least admit the change, still 
more for her to have readjusted that devotedness which was 
so necessary a part of her mental life that she was almost sure 
sooner or later to recover it. Permanent rebellion, the dis- 
order of a life Avithout some loving reverent resolve, was not 
possible to her ; but she was now in an interval when the very 
force of her nature heightened its confusion. In this way, 
the early months of marriage often are times of critical tumult 
— whether that of a shrimp-pool or of deeper waters — which 
afterwards subsides into cheerful peace. 

But was not Mr. Casaubon just as learned as before ? Had 
his forms of expression changed, or his sentiments become 
less laudable ? Oh waywardness of womanhood ! did his 
chronology fail him, or his ability to state not only a theory 
but the names of those who held it ; or his provision for giv- 
ing the heads of any subject on demand ? And was not Eome 
the place in all the world to give free play to such accomplish- 
ments ? Besides, had not Dorothea's enthusiasm especially 
dwelt on the prospect of relieving the weight and perhaps the 
sadness with which great tasks lie on him who has to achieve 
them ? — And that such weight pressed on Mr. Casaubon was 
only plainer than before. 

All these are crushing questions ; but whatever else remained 
the same, the light had changed, and you cannot find the pearly 
dawn at noonday. The fact is unalterable, that a fellow- 
mortal with whose nature you are acquainted solely through 
the brief entrances and exits of a few imaginative weeks called 
courtship, may, when seen in the continuity of married com- 
panionship, be disclosed as something better or worse than 
what you have preconceived, but will certainly not appear 
altogether the same. And it would be astonishing to find 
how soon the change is felt if we had no kindred changes to 
compare with it. To share lodgings with a brilliant dinner- 
companion, or to see your favorite politician in the Ministry, 
may bring about changes quite as rapid : in these cases too w^e 
begin by knowing little and believing much, and we sometimes 
end. .by inverting the quantities. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 205 

Still, sucli comparisons might mislead, for no man was more 
incapable of flashy make-believe than Mr. Casaubon : he was 
as genuine a character as any ruminant animal, and he had not 
actively assisted in creating any illusions about himself. How 
was it that in the weeks since her marriage, Dorothea had not 
distinctly observed but felt with a stifling depression, that the 
large vistas and wide fresh air which she had dreamed of find- 
ing in her husband's mind were replaced by anterooms and 
winding passages which seemed to lead nowhither ? I suppose 
it was that in courtship everything is regarded as provisional 
and preliminary, and the smallest sample of virtue or accom- 
plishment is taken to guarantee delightful stores which the 
broad leisure of marriage will reveal. But the door-sill of 
marriage once crossed, expectation is concentrated on the 
present. Having once embarked on your marital voyage, it is 
impossible not to be aware that you make no way and that the 
sea is not within sight — that, in fact, you are exploring an 
enclosed basin. 

In their conversation before marriage, Mr. Casaubon had 
often dwelt on some explanation or questionable detail of 
which Dorothea did not see the bearing ; but such imperfect 
coherence seemed due to the brokenness of their intercourse, 
and, supported by her faith in their future, she had listened 
with fervid patience to a recitation of possible arguments to 
be brought against Mr. Casaubon's entirely new view of the 
Philistine god Dagon and other fish-deities, thinking that here- 
after she should see this subject which touched him so nearly 
from the same high ground whence doubtless it had become so 
important to him. Again, the matter-of-course statement and 
tone of dismissal with which he treated what to her were the 
most stirring thoughts, was easily accounted for as belonging 
to the sense of haste and preoccupation in which she herself 
shared during their engagement. But now, since they had 
been in Eome, with all the depths of her emotion roused to 
tumultuous activity, and with life made a new problem by new 
elements, she had been becoming more and more aware, with 
a certain terror, that her mind was continually sliding into in- 
ward fits of anger and repulsion, or else into forlorn weariness. 



206 MIDDLEMARCH. 

How far the judicious Hooker or any other hero of erudition 
would have been the same at Mr. Casaubon's time of life, she 
had no means of knowing, so that he could not have the advan- 
tage of comparison ; but her husband's way of commenting on 
the strangely impressive objects around them had begun to 
affect her with a sort of mental shiver : he had perhaps the 
best intention of acquitting himself worthily, but only of ac- 
quitting himself. What was fresh to her mind was worn out 
to his; and such capacity of thought and feeling as had ever 
been stimulated in him by the general life of mankind had 
long shrunk to a sort of dried preparation, a lifeless embalm- 
ment of knowledge. 

When he said, "Does this interest you, Dorothea? Shall 
we stay a little longer ? I am ready to stay if you wish it," 
— it seemed to her as if going or staying were alike dreary. 
Or, " Should you like to go to the Farnesina, Dorothea ? It 
contains celebrated frescos designed or painted by E-aphael, 
which most persons think it worth while to visit." 

" But do you care about them ? " was always Dorothea's 
question. 

"They are, I believe, highly esteemed. Some of them rep- 
resent the fable of Cupid and Psyche, which is probably the 
romantic invention of a literary period, and cannot, I think, 
be reckoned as a genuine mythical product. But if you like 
these wall-paintings we can easily drive thither ; and you 
will then, I think, have seen the chief works of Eaphael, an^^ 
of which it were a pity to omit in a visit to Eome. He is the 
painter who has been held to combine the most complete grace 
of form with sublimity of expression. Such at least I have 
gathered to be the opinion of conoscenti." 

This kind of answer given in a measured official tone, as of 
a clergyman reading according to the rubric, did not help to 
justify the glories of the Eternal City, or to give her the hope 
that if she knew more about them the w^orld would be joy- 
ously illuminated for her. There is hardly any contact more 
depressing to a young ardent creature than that of a mind in 
which years full of knowledge seem to have issued in a blank 
absence of interest or sympathy. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 207 

On other subjects indeed Mr. Casaubon showed a tenacity 
of occupation and an eagerness which are usually regarded as 
the effect of enthusiasm, and Dorothea was anxious to follow 
this spontaneous direction of his thoughts, instead of being 
made to feel that she dragged him away from it. But she 
was gradually ceasing to expect with her former delightful 
confidence that she should see any wide opening where she 
followed him. Poor Mr. Casaubon himself was lost among 
small closets and winding stairs, and in an agitated dimness 
about the Cabeiri, or in an exposure of other raythologists' ill- 
considered parallels, easily lost sight of any purpose which 
had prompted him to these labors. With his taper stuck 
before him he forgot the absence of windows, and in bitter 
manuscript remarks on other men's notions about the solar 
deities, he had become indifferent to the sunlight. 

These characteristics, fixed and unchangeable as bone in 
Mr. Casaubon, might have remained longer unfelt by Doro- 
thea if she had been encouraged to pour forth her girlish and 
womanly feeling — if he would have held her hands between his 
and listened with the delight of tenderness and understanding 
to all the little histories which made up her experience, and 
would have given her the same sort of intimacy in return, so 
that the past life of each could be included in their mutual 
knowledge and affection — or if she could have fed her 
affection with those childlike caresses which are the bent of 
every sweet woman, who has begun by showering kisses on 
the hard pate of her bald doll, creating a happy soul within 
that woodenness from the wealth of her own love. That was 
Dorothea's bent. With all her yearning to know what was 
afar from her and to be widely benignant, she had ardor 
enough for what was near, to have kissed Mr. Casaubon's 
coat-sleeve, or to have caressed his shoe-latchet, if he would 
have made any other sign of acceptance than pronouncing her, 
with his unfailing propriety, to be of a most affectionate and 
truly feminine nature, indicating at the same time by politely 
reaching a chair for her that he regarded these manifestations 
as rather crude and startling. Having made his clerical 
toilet with due care in the morning, he was prepared only for 



208 MIDDLEMARCH. 

those amenities of life which were suited to the well-adjusted 
stiff cravat of the period, and to a mind weighted with un- 
published matter. 

And by a sad contradiction Dorothea's ideas and resolves 
seemed like melting ice floating and lost in the warm flood of 
which they had been but another form. She was humiliated 
to And herself a mere victim of feeling, as if she could know 
nothing except through that medium : all her strength was 
scattered in fits of agitation, of struggle, of despondency, 
and then again in visions of inore complete renunciation, 
transforming all hard conditions into duty. Poor Dorothea ! 
she was certainly troublesome — to herself chiefly ; but this 
morning for the first time she hsKl been troublesome to Mr. 
Casaubon. 

She had begun, w^hile they were taking coft'ee, with a deter- 
mination to shake off w^hat she inwardly called her selfishness, 
and turned a face all cheerful attention to her husband when 
he said, " My dear Dorothea, we must now think of all that 
is yet left undone, as a preliminary to our departure. I would 
fain have returned home earlier that w^e might have been at 
Lowick for the Christmas ; but my inquiries here have been 
protracted beyond their anticipated period. I trust, how- 
ever, that the time here has not been passed unpleasantly to 
you. Among the sights of Europe, that of Eome has ever 
been held one of the most striking and in some respects 
edifying. I well remember that I considered it an epoch in 
my life when I visited it for the first time ; after the fall of 
Napoleon, an event which opened the Continent to travellers. 
Indeed I think it is one among several cities to which an 
extreme hyperbole has been applied — ' See Eome and die : ' 
but in your case T would propose an emendation and say, 
See Rome as a bride, and live henceforth as a happy wife." 

Mr. Casaubon pronounced this little speech with the most 
conscientious intention, blinking a little and swaying his head 
up and down, and concluding with a smile. He had not found 
marriage a rapturous state, but he had no idea of being any- 
thing else than an irreproachable husband, who would make a 
charming young woman as happy as she deserved to be. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 209 

"I hope you are thoroughly satisfied with our stay — I mean, 
with the result so far as your studies are concerned," said 
Dorothea, trying to keep her mind fixed on what most affected 
her husband. 

" Yes," said Mr. Casaubon, with that peculiar pitch of voice 
which makes the w^ord half a negative. ^'I have been led far- 
ther than I had foreseen, and various subjects for annotation 
liave presented themselves which, though I have no direct need 
of them, I could not pretermit. The task, notwithstanding 
the assistance of my amanuensis, has been a somewhat labori- 
ous one, but your society has happily prevented me from that 
too continuous prosecution of thought beyond the hours of 
study which has been the ^lare of my solitary life." 

" I am very glad that my presence has made any difference 
to you," said Dorothea, who had a vivid memory of evenings 
in which she had supi)osed that Mr. Casaubon's mind had gone 
too deep during the day to be able to get to the surface again. 
I fear there was a little temper in her reply. "I hope when 
we get to Lowick, I shall be more useful to you, and be able 
to enter a little more into what interests you." 

"Doubtless, my dear," said Mr. Casaubon, with a slight 
bow. "The notes I have here made will want sifting, and 
you can, if you please, extract them under my direction." 

" And all your notes," said Dorothea, whose heart had 
already burned within her on this subject, so that now she 
could not help speaking with her tongue. " All those rows 
of volumes — will you not now^ do wdiat you used to speak of ? 
— will you not make up 3' our mind what part of them you 
wdll use, and begin to write the book which will make your 
vast knowledge useful to the world ? I will write to your 
dictation, or I will copy and extract what you tell me : I can 
be of no other use." Dorothea, in a most unaccountable, 
darkly feminine manner, ended with a slight sob and eyes full 
of tears. 

The excessive feeling manifested would alone have been 
highly disturbing to Mr. Casaubon, but there were other rea- 
sons why Dorothea's words were among the most cutting and 
irritating to him that she could have been impelled to use. 

VOL. VII. 14 



210 MIDDLEMARCH. 

She was as blind to his inward troubles as he to hers : she had 
not yet learned those hidden conflicts in her husband which 
claim our pity. She had not yet listened patiently to his heart- 
beats, but only felt that her own was beating violently. In 
Mr. Casaubon's ear, Dorothea's voice gave loud emphatic itera- 
tion to those muffled suggestions of consciousness which it was 
possible to explain as mere fancy, the illusion of exaggerated 
sensitiveness : always when such suggestions are unmistaka- 
bly repeated from without, they are resisted as cruel and un- 
just. We are angered even by the full acceptance of our 
humiliating confessions — how much more by hearing in hard 
distinct syllables from the lips of a near observer, those con- 
fused murmurs which we try to call morbid, and strive against 
as if they were the oncoming of numbness ! And this cruel 
outward accuser was there in the shape of a wife — nay, of a 
young bride, who, instead of observing his abundant pen- 
scratches and amplitude of paper with the uncritical awe of an 
elegant-minded canary-bird, seemed to present herself as a spy 
watching everything with a malign power of inference. Here, 
towards this particular point of the compass, Mr. Casaubon 
had a sensitiveness to match Dorothea's, and an equal quick- 
ness to imagine more than the fact. He had formerly observed 
with approbation her capacity for worshipping the right object ; 
he now foresaw with sudden terror that this capacity might be 
replaced by presumption, this worship by the most exasperat- 
ing of all criticism, — that which sees vaguely a great many 
line ends, and has not the least notion what it costs to reach 
them. 

For the first time since Dorothea had known him, IVIr. Casau- 
bon's face had a quick angry flush upon it. 

" My love," he said, with irritation reined in by propriety, 
"you may rely upon me for knowing the times and the sea- 
sons, adapted to the different stages of a work which is not to 
be measured by the facile conjectures of ignorant onlookers. 
It had been easy for me to gain a temporary effect by a mirage 
of baseless opinion ; but it is ever the trial of the scrupulous 
explorer to be saluted with the impatient scorn of chatterers 
who attempt only the smallest achievements, being indeed 



OLD AXD YOUXO. 211 

equipped for no other. And it were well if all such could 
be admonished to discriminate judgments of which the true 
subject-matter lies entirely beyond their reach, from those of 
which the elements may be compassed by a narrow and super- 
ficial survey." 

This speech was delivered with an energy and readiness 
quite unusual with Mr. Casaubon. It was not indeed entirely 
an improvisation, but had taken shape in inward colloquy, and 
rushed out like the round grains froni a fruit when sudden 
heat cracks it. Dorothea Avas not only his wife : she was a 
personification of that shallow world which surrounds the ill- 
appreciated or desponding author. 

Dorothea was indignant in her turn. Had she not been re- 
pressing everything in herself except the desire to enter into 
some fellowship with her husband's chief interests ? 

"My judgment was a very superficial one — such as I am 
capable of forming," she answered, with a prompt resentment, 
that needed no rehearsal. "You showed me the rows of note- 
books — you have often spoken of them — you have often said 
that they wanted digesting. But I never heard you speak of 
the writing that is to be published. Those were very simple 
facts, and my judgment went no farther. I only begged you 
to let me be of some good to you." 

Dorothea rose to leave the table and Mr. Casaubon made no 
reply, taking up a letter which lay beside him as if to reperuse 
it. Both were shocked at their mutual situation — tliat each 
should have betrayed anger towards the other. If they had 
been at home, settled at Lowick in ordinary life among their 
neighbors, the clash would have been less embarrassing : but 
on a wedding journey, the express object of which is to isolate 
two people on the ground that they are all the world to each 
other, the sense of disagreement is, to say the least, confound- 
ing and stultifying. To have changed your longitude exten- 
sively, and placed yourselves in a moral solitude in order to 
have small explosions, to find conversation difficult and to 
hand a glass of water without looking, can hardly be regarded 
as satisfactory fulfilment even to the toughest minds. To 
Dorothea's inexperienced sensitiveness, it seemed like a catas- 



212 MIDDLEMARCH. 

troplie, changing all prospects ; and to Mr. Casaubon it was a 
new pain, he never having been on a wedding journey before, 
or found himself in that close union which was more of a sub- 
jection than he had been able to imagine, since this charming- 
young bride not onl}^ obliged him to much consideration on 
her behalf (which he had sedulously given), but turned out to 
be capable of agitating him cruelly just where he most needed 
soothing. Instead of getting a soft fence against the cold, 
shadowy, unapplausive audience of his life, had he only given 
it a more substantial presence ? 

Neither of them felt it possible to speak again at present. 
To have reversed a previous arrangement and declined to go 
out would have been a show of persistent anger which Doro- 
thea's conscience shrank from, seeing that she already began 
to feel herself guilty. However just her indignation might 
be, her ideal was not to claim justice, but to give tenderness. 
So when the carriage came to the door, she drove with Mr. 
Casaubon to the Vatican, walked with him through the stony 
avenue of inscriptions, and when she parted with him at the 
entrance to the Library, went on through the Museum out of 
mere listlessness as to what was around her. She had not 
spirit to turn round and say that she would drive anywhere. 
It was when Mr, Casaubon was quitting her that Naumann 
had first seen her, and he had entered the long gallery of 
sculpture at the same time with her; but here Xaumann had 
to await Ladislaw with whom he was to settle a bet of cham- 
pagne about an enigmatical mediaeval-looking figure there. 
After they had examined the figure, and had walked on finish- 
ing their dispute, they had parted, Ladislaw lingering behind 
while Naumann had gone into the Hall of Statues where he 
again saw Dorothea, and saw her in that brooding abstraction 
which made her pose remarkable. She did not really see the 
streak of sunlight on the floor more than she saw the statues : 
she was inwardly seeing the light of years to come in her own 
home and over the English fields and elms and hedge-bordered 
highroads ; and feeling that the way in which they might be 
filled with joyful devotedness was not so clear to her as it had 
been. But in Dorothea's mind there was a current into which 



OLD AND YOUNG. 213 

all thought and feeling were apt sooner or later to flow — the 
reaching forward of the whole consciousness towards the full- 
est truth, the least partial good. There was clearly something 
better than anger and despondency. 



CHAPTER XXL 

Hire facounde eke full womanly and plain, 
No contrefeted ternies had she 
To senieii wise. 

Chaucer. 

It was in that way Dorothea came to be sobbing as soon as 
she was securely alone. But she was presently roused by a 
knock at the door, which made her hastily dry her eyes before 
saying, "Come in." Tantripp had brought a card, and said 
that there was a gentleman waiting in the lobby. The courier 
had told him that only Mrs. Casaubon was at home, but he 
said he was a relation of Mr. Casaubon's : would she see him ? 

" Yes," said Dorothea, without pause ; " show him into the 
salon." Her chief impressions about young Ladislaw were 
that when she had seen him at Lowick she had been made 
aware of Mr. Casaubon's generosity towards him, and also that 
she had been interested in his own hesitation about his career. 
She was alive to anything that gave her an opportunity for 
active sympathy, and at this moment it seemed as if the visit 
had come to shake her out of her self-absorbed discontent — to 
remind her of her husband's goodness, and make her feel that 
she had now the right to be his helpmate in all kind deeds. 
She waited a minute or two, but when she passed into the 
next room there were just signs enough that she had been cry- 
ing to make her open face look more youthful and appealing 
than usual. She met Ladislaw with that exquisite smile of 
good-will which is unmixed with vanity, and held out her hand 
to him. He was the elder by several years, but at that 



214 MIDDLEMAPtCH. 

moment he looked much the younger, for his transparent 
complexion flushed suddenly, and he spoke with a shyness 
extremely unlike the ready indifference of his manner with 
his male companion, while Dorothea became all the calmer 
with a wondering desire to put him at ease. 

" I was not aware that you and Mr. Casaubon were in Kome, 
until this morning, when I saw you in the Vatican Museum," 
he said. "I knew you at once — but — I mean, that I con- 
cluded Mr. Casaubon's address would be found at the Poste 
Restante, and I was anxious to pay ni}^ respects to him and 
you as early as possible." 

" Pray sit down. He is not here now, but he will be glad 
to hear of you, I am sure," said Dorothea, seating herself un- 
thinkingly between the fire and the light of the tall window, 
and pointing to a chair opposite, with, the quietude of a benig- 
nant matron. The signs of girlish sorrow in her face were 
only the more striking. " Mr. Casaubon is much engaged ; 
but you will leave your address — will you not ? — and he will 
write to you." 

" You are very good," said Ladislaw, beginning to lose his 
diffidence in the interest with which he was observing the 
signs of weeping which had altered her face. " My address 
is on my card. But if you will allow me I will call again 
to-morrow at an hour when Mr. Casaubon is likely to be at 
home." 

" He goes to read in the Library of the Vatican every day, 
and you can hardly see him except by an appointment. Es- 
pecially now. We are about to leave Kome, and he is very 
busy. He is usually away almost from breakfast till dinner. 
But I am sure he will wish you to dine with us.'* 

Will Ladislaw was struck mute for a few moments. He 
had never been fond of Mr. Casaubon, and if it had not been 
for the sense of obligation, would have laughed at him as a 
Bat of erudition. But the idea of this dried-up pedant, this 
elaborator of small explanations about as important as the sur- 
plus stock of false antiquities kept in a vendor's back cham- 
ber, having first got this adorable young creature to marry 
him, and then passing his honeymoon away from her, groping 



OLD AND YOUNG. 215 

after his mouldy futilities (Will was given to hyperbole) — 
this sudden picture stirred him with a sort of comic disgust : 
he was divided between the impulse to laugh aloud and the 
equally unseasonable impulse to burst into scornful invective. 
For an instant he felt that the struggle was causing a queer 
contortion of his mobile features, but with a good effort he 
resolved it into nothing more offensive than a merry smile, 

Dorothea wondered ; but the smile was irresistible, and 
shone back from her face too. Will Ladislaw's smile was 
delightful, unless you were angry with him beforehand : it was 
a gush of inward light illuminating the transparent skin as 
well as the eyes, and playing about every curve and line as if 
some Ariel were touching them with a new charm, and banish- 
ing forever the traces of moodiness. The reflection of that 
smile could not but have a little merriment in it too, even 
under dark eyelashes still moist, as Dorothea said inquiringly, 
" Something amuses you ? " 

"Yes," said Will, quick in finding resources. "I am think- 
ing of the sort of figure I cut the first time I saw you, when 
you annihilated my poor sketch with your criticism." 

" My criticism ? " said Dorothea, wondering still more. 
" Surely not. I always feel particularly ignorant about 
painting." 

" I suspected you of knowing so mucli, that you knew how 
to say just what was most cutting. You said — I dare say 
you don't remember it as I do — that the relation of my sketch 
to nature was quite hidden from you. At least, you implied 
that." Will could laugh now as well as smile. 

"That was really my ignorance," said Dorotliea, admiring 
Will's good-humor. "I must have said so only because I 
never could see any beauty in the pictures which my uncle 
told me all judges thought very fine. And I have gone about 
with just the same ignorance in Rome. There are compara- 
tively few paintings that I can really enjoy. At first when 
I enter a room where the walls are covered with frescos, or 
with rare pictures, I feel a kind of awe — like a child present 
at great ceremonies where there are grand robes and proces- 
sions ; I fesl myself in the presence of some higher life than 



216 MIDDLEMARCH. 

my own. But when I begin to examine the pictures one by 
one, the life goes out of them, or else is something violent and 
strange to me. It must be my own dulness. I am seeing so 
much all at once, and not understanding half of it. That 
always makes one feel stupid. It is painful to be told that 
anything is very fine and not be able to feel that it is fine — 
something like being blind, w^hile people talk of the sky." 

'' Oh, there is a great deal in the feeling for art which must 
be acquired," said Will. (It was impossible now to doubt the 
directness of Dorothea's confession.) " Art is an old language 
with a great many artificial affected styles, and sometimes the 
chief pleasure one gets out of knowing them is the mere sense 
of knowing. I enjoy the art of all sorts here immensely ; but 
I suppose if I could pick my enjoyment to pieces I should find 
it made up of many different threads. There is something in 
daubing a little one's self, and having an idea of the process." 

" You mean perhaps to be a painter ? " said Dorothea, with 
a new direction of interest. " You mean to make painting 
your profession ? Mr. Casaubon will like to hear that you 
have chosen a profession." 

" No, oh no," said Will, with some coldness. " I have quite 
made up my mind against it. It is too one-sided a life. I 
have been seeing a great deal of the German artists here : 
I travelled from Frankfort with one of them. Some are fine, 
even brilliant fellows — but I should not like to get into their 
way of looking at the world entirely from the studio point of 
view." 

" That I can understand," said Dorothea, cordially. " And 
in Eome it seems as if there were so many things which are 
more wanted in the world than pictures. But if you have a 
genius for painting, would it not be right to take that as a 
guide ? Perhaps you might do better things than these — or 
different, so that there might not be so many pictures almost 
all alike in the same place." 

There was no mistaking this simplicity, and Will was won 
by it into frankness. " A man must have a very rare genius 
to make changes of that sort. I am afraid mine would not 
carry me even to the pitch of doing well wliat has been done 



OLD AND YOUNG. 217 

already, at least not so well as to make it worth while. And 
I should never succeed in anything by dint of drudgery. If 
things don't come easily to me I never get them." 

" I have heard ^Ir. Casaubon say that he regrets your want 
of patience," said Dorothea, gently. She was ratlier shocked 
at this mode of taking all life as a holiday. 

"Yes, I know Mr. Casaubon's opinion. He and I differ." 

The slight streak of contempt in this hasty reply offended 
Dorothea. She was all the more susceptible about Mr. Casau- 
bon because of her morning's trouble. 

" Certainly you differ," she said, rather proudly. " I did 
not think of comjmring you: such power of persevering de- 
voted labor as Mr. Casaubon's is not common." 

Will saw that she Avas offended, but this only gave an addi- 
tional impulse to the new irritation of his latent dislike 
towards Mr. Casaubon. It was too intolerable that Dorothea 
should be worshipping this husband : such weakness in a 
woman is pleasant to no man but the husband in question. 
Mortals are easily tempted to pinch the life out of their 
neighbor's buzzing glory, and think that such killing is no 
murder. 

" Xo, indeed," he answered, promptly. " And therefore it 
is a pity that it should be thrown away, as so much English 
scholarship is, for want of knowing what is being done by the 
rest of the world. If Mr. Casaubon read German he would 
save himself a great deal of trouble." 

" I do not understand you," said Dorothea, startled and 
anxious. 

'' I merely mean," said Will, in an offhand way, " that the 
Germans have taken the lead in historical inquiries, and they 
laugh at results which are got by groping about in woods with 
a pocket-compass while they have made good roads. When I 
was with Mr. Casaubon I saw that he deafened himself in 
that direction : it was almost against his will that he read 
a Latin treatise written by a German. I was very sorry." 
• Will only thought of giving a good pinch that would anni- 
hilate that vaunted laboriousness, and was unable to imagine 
the mode in which Dorothea would be wounded. Younjr Mr. 



218 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Ladislaw was not at all deej^ himself in German writers ; but 
very little achievement is required in order to pity another 
man's shortcomings. 

Poor Dorothea felt a pang at the thought that the labor of 
her husband's life might be void, which left her no energy to 
spare for the question whether this young relative who was 
so much obliged to him ought not to have repressed his obser- 
vation. She did not even speak, but sat looking at her hands, 
absorbed in the piteousness of that thought. 

Will, however, having given that annihilating pinch, was 
rather ashamed, imagining from Dorothea's silence that he had 
offended her still more ; and having also a conscience about 
plucking the tail-feathers from a benefactor. 

'"'I regretted it especially," he resumed, taking the usual 
course from detraction to insincere eulogy, " because of my 
gratitude and respect towards my cousin. It would not 
signify so much in a man whose talents and character were 
less distinguished." 

Dorothea raised her eyes, brighter than usual with excited 
feeling, and said in her saddest recitative, " How I wish I 
had learned German when I was at Lausanne ! There were 
plenty of German teachers. But now I can be of no use." 

There was a new light, but still a mysterious light, for 
Will in Dorothea's last words. The question how she had 
come to accept Mr. Casaubon — which he had dismissed when 
he first saw her by saying that she must be disagreeable in 
spite of appearances — was not now to be answered on any 
such short and easy method. Whatever else she might be, 
she was not disagreeable. She was not coldly clever and 
indirectly satirical, but adorably simple and full of feeling. 
She was an angel beguiled. It would be a unique delight to 
wait and watch for the melodious fragments in which her 
heart and soul came forth so directly and ingenuously. The 
^olian harp again came into his mind. 

She must have made some original romance for herself in 
this marriage. And if Mr. Casaubon had been a dragon who 
had carried her off to his lair with his talons simply and 
without legal forms, it would have been an unavoidable feat 



OLD AND YOUNG. 219 

of heroism to release her and fall at her feet. But he was 
something more unmanageable than a dragon : he was a bene- 
factor with collective society at his back, and he was at that 
moment entering the room in all the unimpeachable correctness 
of his demeanor, while Dorothea was looking animated with a 
newly roused alarm and regret, and Will was looking animated 
with his admiring speculation about her feelings. 

Mr. Casaubon felt a surprise which was quite unmixed with 
pleasure, but he did not swerve from his usual politeness of 
greeting, when Will rose and explained his presence. Mr. 
Casaubon was less happy than usual, and this perhaps made 
him look all the dimmer and more faded ; else, the effect 
might easily have been produced by the contrast of his young 
cousin's appearance. The first impression on seeing Will was 
one of sunny brightness, which added to the uncertainty of 
his changing expression. Surely, his very features changed 
their form ; his jaw looked sometimes large and sometimes 
small ; and the little ripple in his nose was a preparation for 
metamorphosis. When he turned his head quickly his hair 
seemed to shake out light, and some persons thought they saw 
decided genius in this coruscation. Mr. Casaubon, on the con- 
trary, stood rayless. 

As Dorothea's eyes were turned anxiously on her husband 
she was perhaps not insensible to the contrast, but it was only 
mingled with other causes in making her more conscious of 
that new alarm on his behalf which was the first stirring of a 
pitying tenderness fed by the realities of his lot and not by 
her own dreams. Yet it was a source of greater freedom to 
her that AVill was there ; his young equality was agreeable, 
and also perhaps his openness to conviction. She felt an 
immense need of some one to speak to, and she had never 
before seen any one who seemed so quick and pliable, so 
likely to understand everything. 

Mr. Casaubon gravely hoped that Will was passing his time 
profitably as well as pleasantly in Kome — had thought his 
•intention was to remain in South Germany — but begged him 
to come and dine to-morrow, when he could converse more at 
large : at present he was soniewhat weary. Ladislavv under- 



220 MIDDLEMARCH. 

stood, and accepting the invitation immediately took his 
leave. 

Dorothea's eyes followed her husband anxiously, while he 
sank down wearily at the end of a sofa, and resting his elbow 
supported his head and looked on the floor. A little flushed, 
and with bright eyes, she seated herself beside him, and 
said — 

'•Forgive me for speaking so hastily to you this morning. 
I was wrong. I fear I hurt you and made the day more 
burdensome." 

" I am glad that you feel that, my dear," said j\Ir. Casaubon. 
He spoke quietly and bowed his head a little, but there was 
still an uneasy feeling in his eyes as he looked at her. 

'' But you do forgive me ? " said Dorothea, with a quick 
sob. In her need for some manifestation of feeling she was 
ready to exaggerate her own fault. Would not love see re- 
turning penitence afar off, and fall on its neck and kiss it ? 

" My dear Dorothea — ' who wdth repentance is not satisfied, 
is not of heaven nor earth : ' — you do not think me worthy 
to be banished by that severe sentence," said Mr. Casaubon, 
exerting himself to make a strong statement, and also to 
smile faintly. 

Dorothea was silent, but a tear which had come up with the 
sob would insist on falling. 

" You are excited, my dear. And I also am feeling some 
unpleasant consequences of too much mental disturbance," 
said Mr. Casaubon. In fact, he had it in his thought to tell 
her that she ought not to have received young Ladislaw in 
his absence : but he abstained, partly from the sense that it 
would be ungracious to bring a new complaint in the moment 
of her penitent acknowledgment, partly because he wanted to 
avoid further agitation of himself by speech, and partly be- 
cause he was too proud to betray that jealousy of disposition 
■which was not so exhausted on his scholarly compeers that 
there was none to spare in other directions. There is a sort 
of jealousy which needs very little fire : it is hardly a passion, 
but a blight bred in the cloudy, damp despondency of uneasy 
egoism. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 221 

"I think it is time for us to dress," he added, looking at 
his watch. They both rose, and there was never any further 
allusion between them to what had passed on this day. 

But Dorothea remembered it to the last with the vividness 
with which we all remember epochs in our experience when 
some dear expectation dies, or some new motive is born. To- 
day she had begun to see that she had been under a wild illu- 
sion in expecting a response to her feeling from Mr. Casaubon, 
and she had felt the waking of a presentiment that there might 
be a sad consciousness in his life whicli made as great a need 
on his side as on her own. 

We are all of us born in moral stupidity, taking the world 
as an udder to feed our supreme selves : Dorothea had early 
begun to emerge from that stupidity, but yet it had been 
easier to her to imagine how she would devote herself to 
Mr. Casaubon, and become wise and strong in his strength 
and wisdom, than to conceive with that distinctness which is 
no longer reflection but feeling — an idea wrought back to the 
directness of sense, like the solidity of objects — that he had 
an equivalent centre of self, whence the lights and shadows 
must always fall witli a certain difference. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

Nous causames longtemps ; elle etait simple et bonne. 
Ne sachant pas le mal, elle faisait le bien ; 
Des ricbesses du coeur elle me fit I'aumone, 
Et tout en ecoutant comme le cceur se doune, 
Sans oser y penser, je lui donnai le mien ; 
Elle emporta ma vie, et n'en sut jamais rien. 

Alfred de Musset. 

Will Ladislaw was delightfully agreeable at dinner the 
next da}', and gave no opportunity for Mr. Casaubon to show 
disapprobation. On the contrary it seemed to Dorothea that 



222 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Will had a happier way of drawing her husband into conver- 
sation and of deferentially listening to him than she had ever 
observed in any one before. To be sure, the listeners about 
Tipton were not highly gifted ! Will talked a good deal him- 
self, but what he said was thrown in with such rapidity, and 
with such an unimportant air of saying something by the way, 
that it seemed a gay little chime after the great bell. If Will 
was not always perfect, this Avas certainly one of his good 
days. He described touches of incident among the poor peo- 
ple in Kome, only to be seen by one who could move about 
freely ; he found himself in agreement with Mr. Casaubon as 
to the unsound opinions of Middleton concerning the relations 
of Judaism and Catholicism ; and passed easily to a half-enthu- 
siastic half-playful picture of the enjoyment he got out of the 
very miscellaneousness of Eome, which made the mind flexi- 
ble with constant comparison, and saved you from seeing the 
world's ages as a set of box-like partitions without vital con- 
nection. Mr. Casaubon's studies, Will observed, had always 
been of too broad a kind for that, and he had perhaps never 
felt any such sudden effect, but for himself he confessed that 
Kome had given him quite a new sense. of history as a whole : 
the fragments stimulated his imagination and made him con- 
structive. Then occasionally, but not too often, he appealed 
to Dorothea, and discussed what she said, as if her sentiment 
were an item to be considered in the final judgment even of 
the Madonna di Foligno or the Laocoon. A sense of contrib- 
uting to form the world's opinion makes conversation particu- 
larly cheerful ; and Mr. Casaubon too was not without his 
pride in his young wife, who spoke better than most women, 
as indeed he had perceived in choosing her. 

Since things were going on so pleasantly, Mr. Casaubon's 
statement that his labors in the Library would be suspended 
for a couple of days, and that after a brief renewal he should 
have no further reason for staying in Eome, encouraged Will 
to urge that Mrs. Casaubon should not go away without see- 
ing a studio or two. Would not Mr. Casaubon take her ? 
That sort of thing ought not to be missed : it was quite spe- 
cial : it was a form of life that grew like a small fresh vegeta- 



OLD AND YOUNG. 223 

tion with its population of insects on huge fossils. Will would 
be happy to conduct them — not to anything w^earisome, only 
to a few examples. 

Mr. Casaubon, seeing Dorothea look earnestly towards him, 
could not but ask her if she would be interested in such visits : 
he was now at her service during the whole day ; and it w^as 
agreed that Will should come on the morrow and drive with 
them. 

Will could not omit Thorwaldsen, a living celebrity about 
whom even Mr. Casaubon inquired, but before the day was far 
advanced he led the way to the studio of his friend Adolf 
Naumann, whom he mentioned as one of the chief renovators 
of Christian art, one of those who had not only revived but 
expanded that grand conce])tion of supreme events as mys- 
teries at which the successive ages were spectators, and in 
relation to which the great souls of all periods became as it 
were contemporaries. Will added that he had made himself 
Naumann's pupil for the nonce. 

" I have been making some oil-sketches under him,"' said 
Will. "I hate copying. I must put something of my own in. 
Naumann has been painting the Saints drawing the Car of the 
Church, and I have been making a sketch of Marlowe's Tam- 
burlaine Driving the Conquered Kings in his Chariot. I am 
not so ecclesiastical as Naumann, and I sometimes twit him 
with his excess of meaning. But this time I mean to outdo 
him in breadth of intention. 1 take Tamburlaine in his 
chariot for the tremendous course of the world's physical his- 
tory lashing on the harnessed dynasties. In my opinion, that 
is a good mythical interpretation." Will here looked at ]Mr. 
Casaubon, who received this offhand treatment of symbolism 
very uneasily, and bowed with a neutral air. 

" The sketch must be very grand, if it conveys so much," 
said Dorothea. " I should need some explanation even of the 
meaning you give. Do you intend Tamburlaine to represent 
earthquakes and volcanoes ? " 

" Oh yes," said Will, laughing, " and migrations of races 
and clearings of forests — and America and the steam-engine. 
Everj'thing you can imagine ! " 



224 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" What a difficult kind of shorthand ! " said Dorothea, smil- 
ing towards her husband. " It would require all your knowl- 
edge to be able to read it." 

Mr. Casaubon blinked furtively at Will. He had a suspi- 
cion that he was being laughed at. But it was not possible to 
include Dorothea in the suspicion. 

They found Naumann painting industriously, but no model 
was present ; his pictures w^ere advantageously arranged, and 
his own plain vivacious person set off by a dove-colored blouse 
and a maroon velvet cap, so that everything was as fortunate 
as if he had expected the beautiful young English lady exactly 
at that time. 

The painter in his confident English gave little dissertations 
on his finished and unfinished subjects, seeming to observe 
Mr. Casaubon as much as he did Dorothea. Will burst in here 
and there with ardent words of praise, marking out particular 
merits in his friend's work ; and Dorothea felt that she was 
getting quite new notions as to the significance of Madonnas 
seated under inexplicable canopied thrones with the simple 
country as a background, and of saints with architectural 
models in their hands, or knives accidentally w^edged in their 
skulls. Some things which had seemed monstrous to her were 
gathering intelligibility and even a natural meaning : but all 
this was apparently a branch of knowledge in w^hich Mr. 
Casaubon had not interested himself. 

" I think I would rather feel that painting is beautiful than 
have to read it as an enigma ; but I should learn to understand 
these pictures sooner than yours with the very wide meaning," 
said Dorothea, speaking to Will. 

^' Don't speak of my painting before Naumann," said Will. 
" He will tell you, ix, is ^\ j^fitscherel, which is his most oppro- 
brious word ! " 

" Is that true ? " said Dorothea, turning her sincere eyes on 
Naumann, who made a slight grimace and said — 

'' Oh, he does not mean it seriously with painting. His 
walk must be belles-lettres. That is wi-ide." 

Naumann's pronunciation of the vowel seemed to stretch 
the word sitirically. Will did not half like it, but managed 



OLD AND YOUXG. 225 

to laugh : and Mr. Casaubon, while he felt some disgust at the 
artist's German accent, began to entertain a little respect for 
his judicious severity. 

The respect was not diminished when Xaumanu, after draw- 
ing Will aside for a moment and looking, first at a large can- 
vas, then at JVIr. Casaubon, came forward again and said — 

" My friend Ladislaw thinks you will pardon me, sir, if I 
say that a sketch of your head would be invaluable to me for 
the St. Thomas Aquinas in my picture there. It is too much 
to ask ; but I so seldom see just what I want — the idealistic 
in the real." 

'' You astonish me greatly, sir," said ^Mr. Casaubon, his looks 
improved with a glow of delight; "but if my poor physiog- 
nomy, which I have been accustomed to regard as of the 
commonest order, can be of any use to you in furnishing some 
traits for the angelical doctor, I shall feel honored. That is 
to say, if the operation will not be a lengthy one ; and if Mrs. 
Casaubon will not object to the delay." 

As for Dorothea, nothing could have pleased her more, 
unless it had been a miraculous voice pronouncing Mr. Casau- 
bon the wisest and worthiest among the sons of men. In that 
case her tottering faith would have become firm again. 

Kaumann's apjiaratus was at hand in wonderful complete- 
ness, and the sketch went on at once as well as the conver- 
sation. Dorothea sat down and subsided into calm silence, 
feeling happier than she had done for a long while before. 
Every one about her seemed good, and she said to herself that 
Eome, if she had only been less ignorant, would have been 
full of beauty : its sadness would have been winged with hope. 
No nature could be less suspicious than hers : when she was a 
child she believed in the gratitude of wasps and the honorable 
susceptibility of sparrows, and was proportionately indignant 
when their baseness was made manifest. 

The adroit artist was asking Mr. Casaubon questions about 
English politics, which brought long answers, and Will mean- 
while had perched himself on some steps in the background 
overlooking all. 

Presently Naumann said — " Xow if I could lay this by for 



226 MIDDLEMARCH. 

half an hour and take it up again — come and look, Ladislaw 
— I think it is perfect so far." 

Will vented those adjuring interjections which imply that 
admiration is too strong for syntax ; and Naumann said in a 
tone of piteous regret — 

"Ah — now — if I could but have had more — but you have 
other engagements — I could not ask it — or even to come 
again to-morrow." 

" Oh, let us stay ! " said Dorothea. •' We have nothing to 
do to-day except go about, have we ? " she added, looking 
entreatingly at Mr. Casaubon. "It would be a pity not to 
make the head as good as possible." 

" I am at your service, sir, in the matter," said Mr. Casaubon, 
with polite condescension. "Having given up the interior 
of my head to idleness, it is as well that the exterior should 
work in this way." 

" You are unspeakably good — now I am happy ! " said 
Naumann, and then went on in German to Will, pointing here 
and there to the sketch as if he were considering that. Put- 
ting it aside for a moment, he looked round vaguely, as if 
seeking some occupation for his visitors, and afterwards turn- 
ing to Mr. Casaubon, said — 

" Perhaps the beautiful bride, the gracious lady, would not 
be unwilling to let me fill up the time by trying to make a 
slight sketch of her — not, of course, as you see, for that pic- 
ture — only as a single study." 

Mr. Casaubon, bowing, doubted not that Mrs. Casaubon 
would oblige him, and Dorothea said, at once, " Where shall 
I put myself ?" 

Naumann was all apologies in asking her to stand, and allow 
him to adjust her attitude, to which she submitted without 
any of the affected airs and laughs frequently thought neces- 
sary on such occasions, when the painter said, " It is as Santa 
Clara that I want you to stand — leaning so, with your cheek 
against your hand — so — looking at that stool, please, so ! " 

Will was divided between the inclination to fall at the 
Saint's feet and kiss her robe, and the temptation to knock 
Naumann down while he was adjusting her arm. All this 



OLD AND YOUNG. 22T 

was impudence and desecration, and he repented that he had 
brought her. 

The artist was diligent, and Will recovering himself moved 
about and occupied Mr. Casaubon as ingeniously as he could • 
but he did not in the end prevent the time from seeming long 
to that gentleman, as was clear from his expressing a fear that 
Mrs. Casaubon would be tired. Naumann took the hint and 
said — 

"Xow, sir, if you can oblige me again, I will release the 
lady-wife." 

So Mr. Casaubon's patience held out further, and when after 
all it turned out that the head of Saint Thomas Aquinas would 
be more perfect if another sitting could be bad, it was granted 
for the morrow. On the morrow Santa Clara too was re- 
touched more than once. The result of all was so far from 
displeasing to Mr. Casaubon, that he arranged for the pur- 
chase of the picture in which Saint Thomas Aquinas sat 
among the doctors of the Church in a disputation too abstract 
to be rei:)resented, but listened to with more or less attention 
by an audience above. The Santa Clara, which was spoken of 
in the second place, Naumann declared himself to be dissatis- 
fied with — he could not, in conscience, engage to make a 
worthy picture of it ; so about the Santa Clara the arrange- 
ment was conditional. 

I will not dwell on Naumann's jokes at the expense of Mr. 
Casaubon that evening, or on his dithyrambs about Dorothea's 
charm, in all which Will joined, but with a difference. Ko 
sooner did Naumann mention any detail of Dorothea's beauty, 
than Will got exasperated at his presumption : there was gross- 
ness in his choice of the most ordinary words, and what busi- 
ness had he to talk of her lips ? She was not a woman to 
be spoken of as other women were. Will could not say just 
what he thought, but he became irritable. And yet, when 
after some resistance he had consented to take the Casaubons 
to his friend's studio, he had been allured by the gratifica- 
tion of his pride in being the person who could grant Xaumann 
such an opportunity of studying her loveliness — or rather her 
divineness, for the ordinary phrases which might apply to 



228 MIDDLEMARCH. 

mere bodily prettiness were not applicable to her. (Certainly 
all Tipton and its neighborhood, as well as Dorothea herself, 
would have been surprised at her beauty being made so much 
of. In that part of the world Miss Brooke had been only a 
" fine young woman.") 

" Oblige me by letting the subject drop, Naumann. Mrs. 
Casaubon is not to be talked of as if she were a model," said 
Will. Naumann stared at him. 

'■ Schon ! I will talk of my Aquinas. The head is not a bad 
type, after all. I dare say the great scholastic himself would 
have been flattered to have his portrait asked for. Nothing 
like these starchy doctors for vanity ! It was as I thought : 
he cared much less for her portrait than his own." 

" He 's a cursed white-blooded pedantic coxcomb," said Will, 
with gnashing impetuosity. His obligations to Mr. Casaubon 
were not known to his hearer, but Will himself was think- 
ing of them, and wishing that he could discharge them all by 
a check. 

Naumann gave a shrug and said, " It is good they go away 
soon, my dear. They are spoiling your fine temper." 

All Will's hope and contrivance w^ere now concentrated on 
seeing Dorothea Avhen she was alone. He only wanted her 
to take more emphatic notice of him ; he only wanted to be 
something more special in her remembrance than he could yet 
believe himself likely to be. He was rather impatient under 
that open ardent good-will, which he saw was her usual state 
of feeling. The remote worship of a woman throned out of 
their reach plays a great part in men's lives, but in most cases 
the worshipper longs for some queenly recognition, some ap- 
proving sign by which his soul's sovereign may cheer him 
without descending from her high place. That was precisely 
what Will wanted. But there were plenty of contradictions 
in his imaginative demands. It was beautiful to see how 
Dorothea's eyes turned with wifely anxiety and beseeching to 
Mr. Casaubon : she would have lost some of her halo if she 
had been without that duteous preoccupation ; and yet at the 
next moment the husband's sandy absorption of such nectar 
was too intolerable ; and Will's longing to say damaging things 



OLD AND YOUNG. 229 

about him was perhaps not the less tormenting because he felt 
the strongest reasons for restraining it. 

Will had not been invited to dine the next day. Hence he 
persuaded himself that he was bound to call, and that the only 
eligible time was the middle of the day, when Mr. Casaubou 
would not be at home. 

Dorothea, who had not been made aware that her former 
reception of Will had displeased her husband, had no hesita- 
tion about seeing him, especially as he might be come to pay 
a farewell visit. When he entered she was looking at some 
cameos which she had been buying for Celia. She greeted 
Will as if his visit were quite a matter of course, and said at 
once, having a cameo bracelet in her hand — 

" I am so glad you are come. Perhaps you understand all 
about cameos, and can tell me if these are really good. I wished 
to have you with us in choosing them, but Mr. Casaubon object- 
ed : he thought there was not time. He will finish his work 
to-morrow, and we shall go away in three days. I have been 
uneasy about these cameos. Pray sit down and look at them." 

" I am not particularly knowing, but there can be no great 
mistake about tliese little Homei-ic bits : they are exquisitely 
neat. And the color is line : it will just suit you." 

" Oh, they are for my sister, who has quite a different com- 
plexion. You saw her with me at Lowick : she is light-haired 
and ver}' pretty — at least I think so. We were never so long 
away from each other in our lives before. She is a great pet, 
and never was naughty in her life. I found out before I came 
away that she wanted me to buy her some cameos, and I 
should be sorry for them not to be good — after their kind." 
Dorothea added the last words with a smile. 

"You seem not to care about cameos," said Will, seating 
himself at some distance from her, and observing her while 
she closed the cases. 

"No, frankl}^, I don't think them a great object in life," 
said Dorothea. 

" I fear you are a heretic about art generally. How is that ? 
I should have expected you to be very sensitive to the beauti- 
ful everywhere." 



230 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" I suppose I am dull about many things,' ' said Dorothea, 
simply. " I should like to make life beautiful — I mean every- 
body's life. And then all this immense expense of art, that 
seems somehow to lie outside life and make it no better for 
the world, pains one. It spoils my enjoyment of anything 
when I am made to think that most people are shut out 
from it." 

"I call that the fanaticism of sympathy," said Will, impet- 
uously. " You might say the same of landscape, of poetry, of 
all refinement. If you carried it out you ought to be misera- 
ble in your own goodness, and turn evil that you might have 
no advantage over others. The best piety is to enjoy — when 
you can. You are doing the most then to save the earth's 
character as an agreeable planet. And enjoyment radiates. 
It is of no use to try and take care of all the world ; that is 
being taken care of when you feel delight — in art or in any- 
thing else. Would you turn all the youth of the world into a 
tragic chorus, wailing and moralizing over misery ? I suspect 
that you have some false belief in the virtues of misery, and 
want to make your life a martyrdom." Will had gone fur- 
ther than he intended, and checked himself. But Dorothea's 
thought was not taking just the same direction as his own, 
and she answered without any special emotion — 

" Indeed you mistake me. I am not a sad, melancholy 
creature. I am never unhappy long together. I am angry 
and naughty — not like Celia: I have a great outburst, and 
then all seems glorious again. I cannot help believing in 
glorious things in a blind sort of way, I should be quite 
willing to enjoy the art here, but there is so much that I don't 
know the reason of — so much that seems to me a consecra- 
tion of ugliness rather than beauty. The painting and sculp- 
ture may be wonderful, but the feeling is often low and brutal, 
and sometimes even ridiculous. Here and there I see what 
takes me at once as noble — something that I might compare 
with the Alban Mountains or the sunset from the Pincian 
Hill ; but that makes it the greater pity that there is so little 
of the best kind among all that mass of things over which 
men have toiled so." 



OLD AND YOUNG. 231 

" Of course there is always a great deal of poor work : the 
rarer things want that soil to grow in." 

"Oh dear," said Dorothea, taking up that thought into the 
chief current of her anxiety ; " I see it must be very difficult 
to do anything goodc I have often felt since I have been in 
Kome that most of our lives would look much uglier and more 
bungling than the pictures, if they could be put on the wall." 

Dorothea parted her lips again as if she were going to say 
more, but changed her mind and paused. 

" You are too young — it. is an anachronism for you to have 
such thoughts," said Will, energetically, with a quick shake of 
the head habitual to him. " You talk as if you had never 
known any youth. It is monstrous — as if you had had a 
vision of Hades in your childhood, like the boy in the legend. 
You have been brought up in some of those horrible notions 
that choose the sweetest women to devour — like Minotaurs. 
And now you will go and be shut up in that stone prison at 
Lowick: you will be buried alive. It makes me savage to 
think of it ! I would rather never have seen you than think 
of you with such a prospect." 

Will again feared that he had gone too far ; but the mean- 
ing we attach to words depends on our feeling, and his tone of 
angry regret had so much kindness in it for Dorothea's heart, 
which had always been giving out ardor and had never been 
fed with much from the living beings around her, that she 
felt a new sense of gratitude and answered with a gentle 
smile — 

"It is very good of you to be anxious about me. It is be- 
cause you did not like Lowick yourself : you had set your 
heart on another kind of life. But Lowick is my chosen 
home." 

The last sentence was spoken with an almost solemn ca- 
dence, and Will did not know what to say, since it would not 
be useful for him to embrace her slippers, and tell her that he 
would die for her : it was clear that she required nothing of 
the sort ; and they were both silent for a moment or two, when 
Dorothea began again with an air of saying at last what had 
been in her mind beforehand. 



232 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" I wanted to ask you again about something you said the 
other day. Perhaps it was half of it your lively way of speak- 
ing : I notice that you like to put things strongly ; I myself 
often exaggerate when I speak hastily." 

" What was it ? " said Will, observing that she spoke with 
a timidity quite new in her. " I have a hyperbolical tongue : 
it catches fire as it goes. I dare say I shall have to retract." 

*' I mean what you said about the necessity of knowing Ger- 
man—I mean, for the subjects that Mr. Casaubon is engaged 
in. I have been thinking about it ; and it seems to me that 
with Mr. Casaubon's learning he must have before him the 
same materials as German scholars — has he not ? " Doro- 
thea's timidity was due to an indistinct consciousness that she 
was in the strange situation of consulting a third person about 
the adequacy of Mr. Casaubon's learning. 

" Not exactly the same materials," said Will, thinking that 
he would be duly reserved. " He is not an Orientalist, you 
know. He does not profess to have more than second-hand 
knowledge there." 

"But there are very valuable books about antiquities which 
were written a long while ago by scholars who knew nothing 
about these modern things ; and they are still used. Why 
should Mr. Casaubon's not be valuable, like theirs ? " said 
Dorothea, with more remonstrant energy. She was impelled 
to have the argument aloud, which she had been having in her 
own mind. 

'' That depends on the line of study taken," said Will, also 
getting a tone of rejoinder. " The subject Mr. Casaubon has 
chosen is as changing as chemistry : new discoveries are con- 
stantly making new points of view. Who wants a system on 
the basis of the four elements, or a book to refute Paracelsus ? 
Do you not see that it is no use now to be crawling a little 
way after men of the last century — men like Bryant — and 
correcting their mistakes? — living in a lumber-room and fur- 
bishing up broken-legged theories about Clius and Mizraim ? " 

"How can you bear to speak so lightly?" said Dorothea, 
with a look between sorrow and anger. " If it were as you 
say, what could be sadder than so much ardent labor all in 



OLD AND YOUNG. 233 

vain ? I wonder it does not aifect you more painfully, if you 
really think that a man like Mr. Casaubon, of so much good- 
ness, power, and learning, should in any way fail in what has 
been the labor of his best years." She was beginning to be 
shocked that she had got to such a point of supposition, and 
indignant with Will for having led her to it. 

" You questioned me about the matter of fact, not of feel- 
ing," said Will. " But if you wish to punish me for the fact, 
I submit. I am not in a position to express my feeling toward 
Mr. Casaubon : it would be at best a pensioner's eulogy." 

" Pray excuse me," said Dorothea, coloring deeply. '' I am 
aware, as you say, that I am in fault in having introduced the 
subject. Indeed, I am wrong altogether. Failure after long 
perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving 
good enough to be called a failure." 

" I quite agree with you," said Will, determined to change 
the situation — " so much so that I have made up my mind 
not to run that risk of never attaining a failure. Mr. Casau- 
bon's generosity has perhaps been dangerous to me, and I mean 
to renounce the liberty it has given me. T mean to go back 
to England shortly and work my own way — depend on nobody 
else than myself." 

" That is fine — I respect that feeling," said Dorothea, with 
returning kindness. " But Mr. Casaubon, I am sure, has never 
thought of anything in the matter except what was most for 
your welfare." 

"She has obstinacy and pride enough to serve instead of 
love, now she has married him," said Will to himself. Aloud 
he said, rising — 

" I shall not see you again." 

" Oh, stay till Mr. Casaubon comes," said Dorothea, earnestly. 
"I am so glad we met in Eome. I wanted to know you." 

"And I have made you angry," said Will. "I have niade 
you think ill of me." 

" Oh no. My sister tells me I am always angry with people 
who do not say just what I like. But I hope I am not given 
to think ill of them. In the end I am usually obliged to think 
ill of myself, for being so impatient." 



234 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Still, you don't like me ; I have made myself an unpleas- 
ant thought to you." 

" Not at all," said Dorothea, with the most open kindness. 
" I like you very much." 

Will was not quite contented, thinking that he would appar- 
ently have been of more importance if he had been disliked. 
He said nothing, but looked dull, not to say sulky. 

^' And I am quite interested to see what you will do," Doro- 
thea went on cheerfully. " I believe devoutly in a natural dif- 
ference of vocation. If it were not for that belief, I suppose 
I should be very narrow — there are so many things, besides 
painting, that J am quite ignorant of. You would hardly be- 
lieve how little I have taken in of music and literature, which 
you know so much of. I wonder what your vocation will turn 
out to be : perhaps you will be a poet ? " 

" That depends. To be a poet is to have a soul so quick to 
discern that no shade of quality escapes it, and so quick to feel, 
that discernment is but a hand playing with finely ordered 
variety on the chords of emotion — a soul in which knowledge 
passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashes back as 
a new organ of knowledge. One may have that condition by 
fits only." 

"But you leave out the poems," said Dorothea. "I think 
they are wanted to complete the poet. I understand what you 
mean about knowledge passing into feeling, for that seems to 
be just what I experience. But I am sure I could never pro- 
duce a poem." 

" You are a poem — and that is to be the best part of a 
poet — what makes up the poet's consciousness in his best 
moods," said Will, showing such originality as we all share 
with the morning and the spring-time and other endless 
renewals. 

"I am very glad to hear it," said Dorothea, laughing out her 
words in a bird-like modulation, and looking at Will with 
playful gratitude in her eyes. " What very kind things you 
say to me ! " 

'' I wish I could ever do anything that would be what you 
call kind — that I could ever be of the slightest service to you. 



OLD AND YOUNG. 235 

I fear I shall never have the opportunity." Will spoke with 
fervor. 

" Oh yes," said Dorothea, cordially. " It will come ; and I 
shall remember how well you wish me. I quite hoped that 
we should be friends when I first saw you — because of your 
relationship to Mr. Casaubon." There was a certain liquid 
brightness in her eyes, and Will was conscious that his own 
were obeying a law of nature and filling too. The allusion 
to Mr. Casaubon would have spoiled all if anything at that 
moment could have spoiled tlie subduing power, the sweet 
dignity, of her noble unsuspicious inexperience. 

"And there is one thing even now that you can do," said 
Dorothea, rising and walking a little way under the strength 
of a recurring impulse. " Promise me that you will not again, 
to any one, speak of that subject — I mean about Mr. Casau- 
bon's writings — I mean in that kind of way. It was I who 
led to it. It was my fault. But promise me." 

She had returned from lier brief pacing and stood opposite 
Will, looking gravely at him. 

" Certainly, I will promise you," said Will, reddening how- 
ever. If he never said a cutting word about Mr. Casaubon 
again and left off receiving favors from him, it would clearly 
be permissible to hate him the more. The poet must know 
how to hate, says Goethe ; and Will was at least ready with 
that accomplishment. He said that he must go now without 
waiting for Mr. Casaubon, wliom he would come to take 
leave of at the last moment. Dorothea gave him her hand, 
and they exchanged a simple " Good-by." 

But going out of the x>orte cocliere he met Mr. Casaubon, and 
that gentleman, expressing the best wishes for his cousin, 
politely waived the pleasure of any further leave-taking on the 
morrow, which would be sufficiently crowded with the prepara- 
tions for departure. 

" I have something to tell you about our cousin Mr. Ladis- 
law, which I think will heighten your opinion of him," said 
Dorothea to her husband in the course of the evening. She 
had ]nentioned immediately on his entering that Will had just 
gone away, and would come again, but Mr. Casaubon had said, 



236 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" I met liim outside, and we made our final adieux, I believe," 
saying this with the air and tone by which we imply that any 
subject, whether private or public, does not interest us enough 
to wish for a further remark upon it. So .Dorothea had 
waited. 

"What is that, my love?" said Mr Casaubon (lie always 
said "my love" when his manner was the coldest). 

" He has made up his mind to leave off wandering at once, 
and to give up his dependence on your generosity. He means 
soon to go back to England, and work his own way. I thought 
you would consider that a good sign," said Dorothea, with an 
appealing look into her husband's neutral face. 

" Did he mention the precise order of occupation to which 
he would addict himself ? " 

"No. But he said that he felt the danger which lay for him 
in your generosity. Of course he will write to you about it. 
Do you not think better of him for his resolve ?" 

" I shall await his communication on the subject," said Mr. 
Casaubon. 

" I told him I was sure that the thing you considered in all 
you did for him was his own welfare. I remembered your 
goodness in what you said about him when I first saw him at 
Lowick," said Dorothea, putting her hand on her husband's. 

"I had a duty towards him," said Mr. Casaubon, laying his 
other hand on Dorothea's in conscientious acceptance of her 
caress, but with a glance which he could not hinder from being 
uneasy. " The young man, I confess, is not otherwise an object 
of interest to me, nor need we, I think, discuss his future 
course, which it is not ours to determine beyond the limits 
which I have sufficientlj^ indicated." 

Dorothea did not mention Will again. 



BOOK III. 

WAITING FOR DEATH. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

" Your horses of the Sun," he said, 

" And first-rate wliip Apollo ! 
"Whate'er they be, I '11 eat my head, 

But I will beat them hollow." 

Fred Vixcy, we have seen, had a debt on his mind, and 
though no such immaterial burthen could depress that buoyant- 
heavted young gentleman for many hours together, there were 
circumstances connected with this debt which made the thought 
of it unusually importunate. The creditor was Mr. Bambridge, 
a horse-dealer of the neighborhood, whose company was much 
sought in Middlemarch by young men understood to be " ad- 
dicted to pleasure." During the vacations Fred had naturally 
required more amusements than he had ready money for, and 
Mr. Bambridge had been accommodating enough not only to 
trust him for the hire of horses and the accidental expense of 
ruining a fine hunter, but also to make a small advance by 
which he might be able to meet some losses at billiards. The 
total debt was a hundred and sixty pounds. Bambridge was 
in no alarm about his money, being sure that young Vincy had 
backers ; but he had required something to show for it, and 
Fred had at first given a bill with his own signature. Three 
months later he had renewed this bill with the signature of 
Caleb Garth. On both occasions Fred had felt confident that 
he should meet the bill himself, having ample funds at disposal 
in his own hopefulness. You will hardly demand that his 



238 MIDDLExMARCH. 

confidence should have a basis in external facts ; such confi- 
dence, we know, is something less coarse and materialistic : it 
is a comfortable disposition leading ns to expect that the wis- 
dom of providence or the folly of our friends, the mysteries of 
hick or the still greater mystery of our high individual value 
in the universe, will bring about agreeable issues, such as are 
consistent with our good taste in costume, and our general 
preference for the best style of thing. Fred felt sure that he 
should have a present from his uncle, that he should have a 
run of luck, that by dint of '^swapping" he should gradually 
metamorphose a horse w^orth forty pounds into a horse that 
would fetch a hundred at any moment — ^'judgment" being 
always equivalent to an unspecified sum in hard cash. And 
in any case, even supposing negations which only a morbid 
distrust could imagine, Fred had always (at that time) his 
father's pocket as a last resource, so that his assets of hopeful- 
ness had a sort of gorgeous superfluity about them. Of what 
might be the capacity of his father's pocket, Fred had only a 
vague notion : was not trade elastic ? And would not the defi- 
ciencies of one year be made up for by the surplus of another ? 
The Vincys lived in an easy profuse way, not with any new 
ostentation, but according to the family habits and traditions, 
so that the children had no standard of economy, and the elder 
ones retained some of their infantine notion that their father 
might pay for anything if he woidd. Mr. Vincy himself had 
expensive Middlemarch habits — spent money on coursing, on 
his cellar, and on dinner-giving, while mamma had those run- 
ning accounts with tradespeople, which give a cheerful sense 
of getting everything one wants without any question of pay- 
ment. But it was in the nature of fathers, Fred knew, to bully 
one about expenses : there w^as always a little storm over his 
extravagance if he had to disclose a debt, and Fred disliked 
bad weather within doors. He was too filial to be disrespectful 
to his father, and he bore the thunder with the certainty that 
it was transient; but in the mean time it was disagreeable to 
see his mother cry, and also to be obliged to look sulky instead of 
having fun ; for Fred was so good-tempered that if he looked 
glum under scolding, it was chiefly for proj^riety's sake. The 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 



239 



easier course plainly, was to renew the bill with a friend's sig- 
nature. Why not ? With the superfluous securities of hope 
at his command, there was no reason why he should not have 
increased other people's liabilities to any extent, but for the 
fact that men whose names were good for anything were usu- 
ally pessimists, indisposed to believe that the universal order 
of things would necessarily be agreeable to an agreeable young 

gentleman. 

With a favor to ask we review our list of friends, do justice 
to their more amiable qualities, forgive their little offences, 
and concerning each in turn, try to arrive at the conclusion 
that he will be eager to oblige us, our own eagerness to be 
obliged being as communicable as other warmth. Still there 
is alwavs a certain number who are dismissed as but moder- 
ately eager until the others have refused; and it happened 
that Fred checked off all his friends but one, on the ground 
that applying to them would be disagreeable ; being implicitly 
convinced that he at least (whatever might be maintained 
about mankind generally) had a right to be free from anything 
disagreeable. That he should ever fall into a thoroughly 
unpleasant position — wear trousers shrunk with washing, eat 
cold mutton, have to walk for want of a horse, or to " duck 
under " in any sort of way — was an absurdity irreconcilable 
with those cheerful intuitions implanted in him by nature. 
And Fred winced under the idea of being looked down upon 
as wanting funds for small debts. Thus it came to pass that 
the friend whom he chose to apply to was at once the poorest 
and the kindest — namely, Caleb Garth. 

The Garths were very fond of Fred, as he was of them ; for 
when he and Eosamond were little ones, and the Garths were 
better off, the slight connection between the two families 
through Mr. Featherstone's double marriage (the first to Mr. 
GartlVs sister, and the second to Mrs. Vincy's) had led to an 
acquaintance which was carried on between the children rather 
than the parents : the children drank tea together out of then- 
toy teacups, and spent whole days together in play. Mary 
was a little hoyden, and Fred at six years old thought her the 

nicest girl in the world, making her his wife with a brass 



240 MIDULEMARCH. 

ring which he had cut from an umbrella. Through all the 
stages of his education he had kept his affection for the 
Garths, and his habit of going to their house as a second 
home, though any intercourse between them and the elders 
of his family had long ceased. Even when Caleb Garth was 
prosperous, the Vincys were on condescending terms with 
him and his wife, for tliere were nice distinctions of rank in 
Middlemarch ; and though old manufacturers could not any 
more than dukes be connected with non^ but equals, they 
were conscious of an inherent social superiority which was 
defined with great nicety in practice, though hardly expressi- 
ble theoretically. Since then Mr. Garth had failed in the 
building business, which he had unfortunately added to his 
other avocations of surveyor, valuer, and agent, had conducted 
that business for a time entirely for the benefit of his as- 
signees, and had been living narrowly, exerting himself to 
the utmost that he might after all pay twenty shillings in the 
pound. He had now achieved this, and from all who did not 
think it a bad precedent, his honorable exertions had won him 
due esteem ; but in no part of the world is genteel visiting 
founded on esteem, in the absence of suitable furniture and 
complete dinner-service. Mrs. Yiucy had never been at her 
ease with Mrs. Garth, and frequently spoke of her as a woman 
who had had to work for her bread — meaning that Mrs. 
Garth had been a teacher before her marriage ; in which case 
an intimacy with Lindley Murray and Mangnall's Questions 
was something like a draper's discrimination of calico trade- 
marks, or a courier's acquaintance with foreign countries : no 
woman who was better off needed that sort of thing. And 
since Mary had been keeping Mr. Featherstone's house, Mrs. 
Vincy's want of liking for the Garths had been converted 
into something more positive, by alarm lest Fred should 
engage himself to this plain girl, whose parents "lived in 
such a small way." Fred, being aware of this, never spoke 
at home of his visits to Mrs. Garth, which had of late be- 
come more frequent, the increasing ardor of his affection for 
Mary inclining him the more towards those who belonged to 
her. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 241 

Mr. Garth had a small office in the town, and to this Fred 
went with his request. He obtained it without much diffi- 
culty, for a large amount of painful experience had not suf- 
ficed to make Caleb Garth cautious about his own affairs, or 
distrustful of his fellow-men when they had not proved them- 
selves untrustworthy ; and he had the highest opinion of Fred, 
was " sure the lad would turn out well — an open affectionate 
fellow, with a good bottom to his character — you might trust 
him for anything." Such was Caleb's psychological argument. 
He was one of those rare men who are rigid to themselves 
and indulgent to others. He had a certain shame about his 
neighbors' errors, and never spoke of them willingly ; hence 
he was not likely to divert his mind from the best mode of 
hardening timber and other ingenious devices in order to pre- 
conceive those errors. If he had to blame any one, it was 
necessary for him to move all the papers within his reach, or 
describe various diagrams with his stick, or make calculations 
with the odd money in his pocket, before he could begin ; and 
he would rather do other men's work than find fault with 
their doing. I fear he was a bad disciplinarian. 

When Fred stated the circumstances of his debt, his wish 
to meet it without troubling his father, and the certainty that 
the money would be forthcoming so as to cause no one any 
inconvenience, Caleb pushed his spectacles upward, listened, 
looked into his favorite's clear young eyes, and believed him, 
not distinguishing confidence about the future from veracity 
about the past; but he felt tliat it was an occasion for a 
friendly hint as to conduct, and that before giving his signa- 
ture he must give a rather strong admonition. Accordingly, 
he took the paper and lowered his spectacles, measured the 
space at his command, reached his pen and examined it, dipped 
it in the ink and examined it again, then pushed the paper 
a little way from him, lifted .up his spectacles again, showed a 
deepened depression in the outer angle of his bushy eyebrows, 
which gave his face a peculiar mildness (pardon these details 
for once — you would have learned to love them if you had 
known Caleb Garth), and said in a comfortable tone — 

" It w^as a misfortune, eh, that breaking the horse's knees ? 

VOL. VII. 16 



242 MIDDLEMARCH. 

And then, these exchanges, they don't answer when you have 
'cute jockeys to deal with. You '11 be wiser another time, my 
boy." 

Whereupon Caleb drew down his spectacles, and proceeded 
to write his signature with the care which he always gave to 
that performance ; for whatever he did in the way of business 
he did well. He contemplated the large well-proportioned 
letters and final flourish, with his head a trifle on one side for 
an instant, then handed it to Fred, said " Good-by," and re- 
turned forthwith to his absorption in a plan for Sir James 
Chettam's new farm-buildings. 

Either because his interest in this work thrust the incident 
of the signature from his memory, or for some reason of which 
Caleb was more conscious, Mrs. Garth remained ignorant of 
the affair. 

Since it occurred, a change had come over Pred's sky, which 
altered his view of the distance, and was the reason why his 
uncle Featherstone's present of money was of importance 
enough to make his color come and go, first with a too definite 
expectation, and afterwards with a proportionate disappoint- 
ment. His failure in passing his examination, had made his 
accumulation of college debts the more unpardonable by his 
father, and there had been an unprecedented storm at home. 
Mr. Vincy had sworn that if he had anything more of that 
sort to put up with, Fred should turn out and get his living 
how he could ; and he had never yet quite recovered his good- 
humored tone to his son, who had especially enraged him by 
saying at this stage of things that he did not want to be a 
clergyman, and would rather not " go on with that." Fred 
was conscious that he would have been yet more severely 
dealt with if his family as well as himself had not secretly 
regarded him as Mr. Featherstone's heir; that old gentleman's 
pride in him, and apparent fondness for him, serving in the 
stead of more exemplary conduct — just as when a youthful 
nobleman steals jewellery we call the act kleptomania, speak 
of it with a philosophical smile, and never think of his being 
sent to the house of correction as if he were a ragged boy who 
had stolen turnips. In fact, tacit expectations of what would 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 243 

be done for him by uncle Featherstone determined the angle 
at which most people viewed Fred Yincy in Middlemarch; 
and in his own consciousness, what uncle Featherstone would 
do for him in an emergency, or w^hat he would do simply as 
an incorporated luck, formed always an immeasurable depth 
of aerial perspective. But that present of bank-notes, once 
made, was measurable, and being applied to the amount of 
the debt, showed a deficit which had still to be filled up either 
by Feed's "judgment" or by luck in some other shape. For 
that little episode of the alleged borrowing, in which he had 
made his father the agent in getting the Bulstrode certifi- 
cate, was a new reason against going to his father for money 
towards meeting his actual debt. Fred was keen enough to 
foresee that anger would confuse distinctions, and that his 
denial of having borrowed expressly on the strength of his 
uncle's will would be taken as a falsehood. He had gone to 
his father and told him one vexatious affair, and he had left 
another untold : in such cases the complete revelation always 
produces the impression of a previous duplicity. Now Fred 
piqued himself on keeping clear of lies, and even fibs ; he often 
shrugged his shoulders and made a significant grimace at what 
he called Rosamond's fibs (it is only brothers who can associate 
such ideas with a lovely girl) ; and rather than incur the accu- 
sation of falsehood he would even incur some trouble and self- 
restraint. It was under strong inward pressure of this kind 
that Fred had taken the wise step of depositing the eighty 
pounds with his mother. It was a pity that he had not at 
once given them to Mr. Garth ; but he meant to make the sum 
complete with another sixty, and wath a view to this, he had 
kept twenty pounds in his own pocket as a sort of seed-corn, 
which, planted by judgment, and watered by luck, might yield 
more than threefold — a very poor rate of multiplication when 
the field is a young gentleman's infinite soul, with all the 
numerals at command. 

Fred was not a gambler : he had not that specific disease in 
which the suspension of the whole nervous energy on a chance 
or risk becomes as necessary as the dram to the drunkard ; 
he had only the tendency to that diffusive form of gambling 



244 MIDDLEMARCH. 

which has no alcoholic intensity, but is carried on with the 
healthiest chyle-fed blood, keeping up a joyous imaginative 
activity which fashions events according to desire, and having 
no fears about its own weather, only sees the advantage there 
must be to others in going aboard with it. Hopefulness has a 
pleasure in making a throw of any kind, because the prospect 
of success is certain ; and only a more generous pleasure in 
offering as many as possible a share in the stake. Fred liked 
play, especially billiards, as he liked hunting or riding a 
steeple-chase ; and he only liked it the better because he 
wanted money and hoped to win. But the twenty pounds' 
worth of seed-corn had been planted in vain in the seductive 
green plot — all of it at least which had not been dispersed by 
the roadside — and Fred found himself close upon the term of 
payment with no money at command beyond the eighty pounds 
which he had deposited with his mother. The broken-winded 
horse which he rode represented a present which had been made 
to him a long while ago by his uncle Featherstone : his father 
always allowed him to keep a horse, Mr. Yincy's own habits 
making him regard this as a reasonable demand even for a son 
who was rather exasperating. This horse, then, was Fred's 
propert}^, and in his anxiety to meet the imminent bill he de^ 
termined to sacrifice a possession without w^hich life would cer- 
tainly be worth little. He made the resolution with a sense of 
heroism — heroism forced on him by the dread of breaking his 
word to ^Ir. Garth, by his love for Mary and awe of her opinion. 
He would start for Houndsley horse-fair which w^as to be held 
the next morning, and — simply sell his horse, bringing back 
the money by coach ? — Well, the horse w^ould hardh^ fetch 
more than thirty pounds, and there was no knowing what 
might happen ; it would be folly to balk himself of luck be- 
forehand. It was a hundred to one that some good chance 
would fall in his way ; the longer he thought of it, the less 
possible it seemed that he should not have a good chance, and 
the less reasonable that he should not equip himself with the 
powder and shot for bringing it down. He would ride to 
Houndsley with Bambridge and with Horrock '• the vet," and 
without asking them anything expressh^, he should virtually 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 245 

get the benefit of their opinion. Before he set out, Fred got 
the eighty pounds from his mother. 

Most of those who saw Fred riding out of Middlemarch in 
company with Bambridge and Horrock, on his w^ay of course to 
Houndsley horse-fair, thought that young Vincy was pleasure- 
seeking as usual ; and but for an unwonted consciousness of 
grave matters on hand, he himself would have had a sense of 
dissipation, and of doing what might be expected of a gay 
young fellow. Considering that Fred was not at all coarse, 
that he rather looked down on the manners and speech of 
young men who had not been to the university, and that he 
had written stanzas as pastoral and unvoluptuous as his flute- 
playing, his attraction towards Bambridge and Horrock was an 
interesting fact which even the love of horse-flesh would not 
wholly account for without that mysterious influence of 
Naming which determinates so much of mortal choice. Under 
any other name than " pleasure " the society of Messieurs 
Bambridge and Horrock must certainly have been regarded as 
monotonous ; and to arrive with them at Houndsley on a driz- 
zling afternoon, to get down at the Red Lion in a street shaded 
with coal-dust, and dine in a room furnished with a dirt- 
enamelled map of the county, a bad portrait of an anonymous 
horse in a stable, His IMajesty George the Fourth with legs 
and cravat, and various leaden spittoons, might have seemed 
a hard business, but for the sustaining power of nomencla- 
ture which determined that the pursuit of these things was 
"gay." 

In Mr. Horrock there was certainly an apparent unfathom- 
ableness which offered play to the imagination. Costume, at 
a glance, gave him a thrilling association with horses (enough 
to specify the hat-brim which took the slightest upward angle 
just to escape the suspicion of bending downwards), and 
nature had given him a face which by dint of Mongolian eyes, 
and a nose, mouth, and chin seeming to follow his hat-brim in 
a moderate inclination upwards, gave the effect of a subdued 
unchangeable sceptical smile, of all expressions the most 
tyrannous over a susceptible mind, and, when acccompanied 
by adequate silence, likely to create the reputation of an 



246 MIDDLEMARCH. 

invincible understanding, an infinite fund of humor — too dry 
to flow, and probably in a state of immovable crust, — and a 
critical judgment which, if you could ever be fortunate enough 
to know it, would be the thing and no other. It is a physiog- 
nomy seen in all vocations, but perhaps it has never been 
more powerful over the youth of England than in a judge of 
horses. 

Mr. Horrock, at a question from Fred about his horse's 
fetlock, turned sideways in his saddle, and watched the horse's 
action for the space of three minutes, then turned forward, 
twitched his own bridle, and remained silent with a profile 
neither more nor less sceptical than it had been. 

The part thus played in dialogue by Mr. Horrock was terri- 
bly effective. A mixture of passions w^as excited in Fred — a 
mad desire to thrash Horrock's opinion into utterance, re- 
strained by anxiety to retain the advantage of his friendship. 
There was always the chance that Horrock might say some- 
thing quite invaluable at the right moment. 

Mr. Bambridge had more open manners, and appeared to 
give forth his ideas without economy. He was loud, robust, 
and was sometimes spoken of as being ^^ given to indulgence " 
— chiefly in swearing, drinking, and beating his wife. Some 
people who had lost by him called him a vicious man ; but 
he regarded horse-dealing as the finest of the arts, and might 
have argued plausibly that it had nothing to do with morality. 
He was undeniably a prosperous man, bore his drinking better 
than others bore tlieir moderation, and, on the whole, flour- 
ished like the green bay -tree. But his range of conversation 
was limited, and like the fine old tune, " Drops of brandy," 
gave you after a while a sense of returning upon itself in a 
way that might make weak heads dizzy. But a slight infu- 
sion of Mr. Bambridge was felt to give tone and character to 
several circles in Middlemarch ; and he was a distinguished 
figure in the bar and billiard-room at the Green Dragon. He 
knew some anecdotes about the heroes of the turf, and various 
clever tricks of Marquesses and Viscounts which seemed to 
prove that blood asserted its pre-eminence even among black- 
legs ; but the minute retentiveness of his memory was chiefly 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 247 

shown about the horses he had himself bought and sold ; the 
number of miles they would trot you in no time without turn- 
ing a hair being, after the lapse of years, still a subject of 
passionate asseveration, in which he would assist the imagi- 
nation of his hearers by solemnly swearing that they never 
saw anything like it. In short, Mr. Bambridge was a man of 
pleasure and a gay companion. 

Fred was subtle, and did not tell his friends that he was 
going to Houndsley bent on selling his horse : he wished to 
get indirectly at their genuine opinion of its value, not being 
aware that a genuine opinion was the last thing likely to be 
extracted from such eminent critics. It was not Mr. Bam- 
bridge's weakness to be a gratuitous flatterer. He had never 
before been so much struck with the fact that this unfortunate 
bay was a roarer to a degree which required the roundest word 
for perdition to give you any idea of it. 

" You made a bad hand at swapping when you went to any- 
body but me, Vincy ! Why, you never threw your leg across 
a finer horse than that chestnut, and you gave him for this 
brute. If you set him cantering, he goes on like twenty saw- 
yers. I never heard but one worse roarer in my life, and that 
was a roan : it belonged to Pegw^ell, the corn-factor ; he used 
to drive him in his gig seven years ago, and he M'anted me to 
take him, but I said, ' Thank you, Peg, I don't deal in wind- 
instruments.' That was what I said. It went the round of 
the country, that joke did. But, what the hell ! the horse was 
a penny trumpet to that roarer of yours." 

"Why, you said just now his was worse than mine," said 
Fred, more irritable than usual. 

"I said a lie, then," said Mr. Bambridge, emphatically. 
" There was n't a penny to choose between 'em." 

Fred spurred his horse, and they trotted on a little way. 
When they slackened again, Mr. Bambridge said — 

"Not but what the roan was a better trotter than yours." 

"I'm quite satisfied with his paces, I know," said Fred, 
who required all the consciousness of being in gay company 
to support him ; " I say his trot is an uncommonly clean one, 
eh, Horrock ?" 



248 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Mr. Horrock looked before him with as complete a neu- 
trality as if he had been a portrait by a great master. 

Fred gave up the fallacious hope of getting a genuine opin- 
ion ; but on reflection he saw that Bam bridge's depreciation 
and Horrock's silence were both virtually encouraging, and 
indicated that they thought better of the horse than they 
chose to say. 

That very evening, indeed, before the fair had set in, Fred 
thought he saw a favorable opening for disposing adv^anta- 
geously of his horse, but an opening which made him congratu- 
late himself on his foresight in bringing with him his eighty 
pounds. A young farmer, acquainted with Mr. Bambridge, 
came into the Red Lion, and entered into conversation about 
parting with a hunter, which he introduced at once as Dia- 
mond, implying that it was a public character. For himself 
he only wanted a useful hack, which would draw upon occa- 
sion ; being about to marry and to give up hunting. The 
hunter was in a friend's stable at some little distance ; there 
was still time for gentlemen to see it before dark. The 
friend's stable had to be reached through a back street where 
you might as easily have been poisoned without expense of 
drugs as in any grim street of that unsanitar}^ period. Fred 
was not fortified against disgust by brandy, as his companions 
were, but the hope of having at last seen the horse that would 
enable him to make money was exhilarating enough to lead 
him over the same ground again the first thing in the morning. 
He felt sure that if he did not come to a bargain with the 
farmer, Bambridge would; for the stress of circumstances, 
Fred felt, was sharpening his acuteness and endowing him 
with all the constructive power of suspicion. Bambridge had 
run down Diamond in a way that he never would have done 
(the horse being a friend's) if he had not thought of buying 
it ; every one who looked at the animal — even Horrock — was 
evidently impressed with its merit. To get all the advantage 
of being with men of this sort, you must know how to draw 
your inferences, and not be a spoon who takes things literally. 
The color of the horse was a dappled gray, and Fred happened 
to know that Lord Medlicote's man was on the look-out for 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 249 

just such a horse. After all his running down, Bambridge 
let it out in the course of the evening, when the farmer was 
absent, that he had seen worse horses go for eighty pounds. 
Of course he contradicted himself twenty times over, but when 
you know what is likely to be true you can test a man's ad- 
missions. And Fred could not but reckon his own judgment 
of a horse as worth something. The farmer had paused over 
Fred's respectable though broken-winded steed long enough 
to show that be thought it worth consideration, and it seemed 
probable that he would take it, with five-and-twenty pounds 
in addition, as the equivalent of Diamond. In that case Fred, 
when he had parted with his new horse for at least eighty 
pounds, would be fifty-five pounds in pocket b}^ the trans- 
action, and would have a hundred and thirty-five pounds 
towards meeting the bill; so that the deficit temporarily 
thrown on Mr. Garth would at the utmost be twenty-five 
pounds. By the time he was hurrying on his clothes in the 
morning, he saw so clearly the importance of not losing this 
rare chance, that if Bambridge and Horrock had both dis- 
suaded him, he would not have been deluded into a direct 
interpretation of their purpose : he would have been aware 
that those deep hands held something else than a young 
fellow's interest. With regard to horses, distrust was your 
only clew. But scepticism, as we know, can never be thor- 
oughly applied, else life would come to a standstill: some- 
thing we must believe in and do, and whatever that something 
may be called, it is virtually our own judgment, even when 
it seems like the most slavish reliance on another. Fred 
believed in the excellence of his bargain, and even before the 
fair had well set in, had got possession of the dappled gray, 
at the price of his old horse and thirty pounds in addition — 
only five pounds more than he had expected to give. 

But he felt a little worried and wearied, perhaps with men- 
tal debate, and without waiting for the further gayeties of the 
horse-fair, he set out alone on his fourteen miles' journey, 
meaning to take it very quietly and keep his horse fresh. 



250 MIDDLEMARCH, 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

The offender's sorrow brings but small relief 
To him who wears the strong offence's cross. 

Shakespeare : Sonnets. 

I AM sorry to say that only the third day after the propi- 
tious events at Houndsley Fred Vincy had fallen into worse 
spirits than he had known in his life before. Kot that he had 
been disappointed as to the possible market for his horse, but 
that before the bargain could be concluded with Lord Medli- 
cote's man, this Diamond, in which hope to the amount of 
eighty pounds had been invested, had without the slightest 
warning exhibited in the stable a most vicious energy in kick- 
ing, had just missed killing the groom, and had ended in 
laming himself severely by catching his leg in a rope that 
overhung the stable-board. There was no more redress for 
this than for the discovery of bad temper after marriage — 
which of course old companions were aware of before the 
ceremony. For some reason or other, Fred had none of his 
usual elasticity under this stroke of ill-fortune : he was simply 
aware that he had only fifty pounds, that there was no chance 
of his getting any more at present, and that the bill for a hun- 
dred and sixty would be presented in five days. Even if he 
had applied to his father on the plea that Mr. Garth should 
be saved from loss, Fred felt smartingly that his father would 
angrily refuse to rescue Mr. Garth from the consequence of 
what he would call encouraging extravagance and deceit. He 
was so utterl}^ downcast that he could frame no other project 
than to go straight to Mr. Garth and tell him the sad truth, 
carrying with him the fifty pounds, and getting that sum at 
least safely out of his own hands. His father, being at the 
warehouse, did not yet know of the accident : when he did, he 
would storm about the vicious brute being brought into his 
stable ; and before meeting that lesser annoyance Fred wanted 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 251 

to get away with all his courage to face the greater. He took 
his father's nag, for he had made up his mind that when he 
had told Mr. Garth, he would ride to Stone Court and confess 
all to Mary. In fact, it is probable that but for Mary's exist- 
ence and Fred's love for her, his conscience would have been 
much less active both in previously urging the debt on his 
thought and impelling him not to spare himself after his usual 
fashion by deferring an unpleasant task, but to act as directly 
and simply as he could. Even much stronger mortals than 
Fred Vincy hold half their rectitude in the mind of the being 
they love best. "The theatre of all my actions is fallen," said 
an antirj^ue personage w^hen his chief friend was dead; and 
they are fortunate who get a theatre where the audience 
demands their best. Certainly it would have made a consider- 
able difference to Fred at that time if Mary Garth liad had no 
decided notions as to what was admirable in character. 

Mr. Garth was not at the office, and Fred rode on to his 
house, which was a little way outside the town — a homely 
place with an orchard in front of it, a rambling, old-fashioned, 
half-timbered building, which before the town had spread had 
been a farin-house, but was now surrounded with the private 
gardens of the townsmen. We get the fonder of our houses 
if they have a physiognomy of their own, as our friends have. 
The Garth family, which was rather a large one, for Mary had 
four brothers and one sister, were very fond of their old house, 
from which all the best furniture had long been sold. Fred 
liked it too, knowing it by heart even to the attic which smelt 
deliciously of apples and quinces, and until to-day he had 
never come to it without pleasant expectations; but his heart 
beat uneasily now with the sense that he should probably have 
to make his confession before Mrs. Garth, of whom he was rather 
more in awe than of her husband. Not that she ^vas inclined 
to sarcasm and to impulsive sallies, as Mary was. In her pres- 
ent matronly age at least, Mrs. Garth never committed herself 
by over-hasty speech ; having, as she said, borne the yoke in 
her youth, and learned self-control. She had that rare sense 
which discerns what is unalterable, and submits to it without 
murmuring. Adoring her husband's virtues, she had very 



252 MIDDLEMARCH. 

early made up lier mind to his incapacity of minding his own 
interests, and had met the consequences cheerfully. She had 
been magnanimous enough to renounce all pride in teapots or 
children's frilling, and had never poured any pathetic con- 
fidences into the ears of her feminine neighbors concerning 
Mr. Garth's want of prudence and the sums he might have had 
if he had been like other men. Hence these fair neighbors 
thought her either proud or eccentric, and sometimes spoke of 
her to their husbands as "your fine Mrs. Garth." She was 
not without her criticism of them in return, being more accu- 
rately instructed than most matrons in Middlemarch, and — 
where is the blameless woman? — apt to be a little severe to- 
wards her owm sex, which in her opinion w^as framed to be 
entirely subordinate. On the other hand, she was dispropor- 
tionately indulgent towards, the failings of men, and was often 
heard to say that these were natural. Also, it must be ad- 
mitted that Mrs. Garth was a trifle too emphatic in her resist- 
ance to what she held to be follies : the passage from governess 
into housewife had wrought itself a little- too strongly into her 
consciousness, and she rarely forgot that while her grammar 
and accent were above the town standard, she wore a plain 
cap, cooked the family dinner, and darned all the stockings. 
She had sometimes taken pupils in a peripatetic fashion, mak- 
ing them follow her about in the kitchen with their book or 
slate. She thought it good for them to see that she could make 
an excellent lather while she corrected their blunders "without 
looking," — that a woman w^ith her sleeves tucked up above 
her elbows might know all about the Subjunctive Mood or the 
Torrid Zone — that, in short, she might possess "education" 
and other good things ending in "tion," and worthy to be 
pronounced emphatically, without being a useless doll. When 
she made remarks to this edifying effect, she had a firm little 
frown on her brow, which yef did not hinder her face from 
looking benevolent, and her words which came forth like a 
procession were uttered in a fervid agreeable contralto. Cer- 
tainly, the exemplary IMrs. Garth had her droll aspects, but 
her character sustained her oddities, as a very fine wine 
sustains a flavor of skin. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 253 

Towards Fred Viiio.y she had a motherly feeling, and had al- 
ways been disposed to excuse his errors, though she wouhl prob- 
ably not have excused Mary for engaging herself to him, her 
daughter being included in that more rigorous judgment which 
she applied to her own sex. But this very fact of her excep- 
tional indulgence towards him made it the harder to Fred that 
he must now inevitably sink in her opinion. And the circum- 
stances of his visit turned out to be still more unpleasant than 
he had expected ; for Caleb Garth had gone out early to look 
at some repairs not far off. Mrs. Garth at certain hours was 
always in the kitchen, and this morning she was carrying on 
several occupations at once there — making her pies at the 
well-scoured deal table on one side of that airy room, observ- 
ing Sally's movements at the oven and dough-tub through an 
open door, and giving lessons to her youngest boy and girl, 
who were standing opposite to her at the table with their 
books and slates before them. A tub and a clothes-horse at 
the other end of the kitchen indicated an intermittent Avash 
of small things also going on. 

Mrs. Garth, with her sleeves turned above her elbows, deftly 
handling her pastry — applying her rolling-pin and giving or- 
namental pinches, while she expounded Avith grammatical fer- 
vor what were the right views about the concord of verbs and 
pronouns with "nouns of multitude or signifying man}-," was 
a sight agreeably amusing. She was of the same curly -haired, 
square-faced type as Mary, but handsomer, with more delicacy 
of feature, a pale skin, a solid matronly figure, and a remark- 
able firmness of glance. In her snowy-frilled cap she reminded 
one of that delightful Frenchwoman whom we have all seen 
marketing, basket on arm. Looking at the mother, you might 
hope that the daughter would become like her, which is a pro- 
spective advantage equal to a dowry — the mother too often 
standing behind the daughter like a malignant prophecy — 
" Such as I am, she will shortly be." 

"Now let us go through that once more,'- said Mrs. Garth, 
pinching an apple-puff which seemed to distract Ben, an ener- 
getic young male with a heavy brow, from due attention to 
the lesson. " ' Not without regard to the import of the word 



254 MIDDLEMARCH. 

as conveying unity or plurality of idea' — tell me again what 
that means, Ben." 

(Mrs. Garth, like more celebrated educators, had her favor- 
ite ancient paths, and in a general wreck of society would have 
tried to hold her " Lindley Murra}^ " above the waves.) 

" Oh — it means — you must think what you mean," said 
Ben, rather peevishly. "I hate grammar. What's the use 
of it ? " 

" To teach you to speak and w^ite correctly, so that you 
can be understood," said Mrs. Garth, with severe precision. 
" Should you like to speak as old Job does ? " 

" Yes," said Ben, stoutly ; " it 's funnier. He says, ' Yo 
goo ' — that 's just as good as ' You go.' " 

"But he says, ^A ship's in the garden,' instead of 'a 
sheep,' " said Letty, with an air of superiority. " You might 
think he meant a ship off the sea." 

" No, you mightn't, if you were n't silly," said Ben. "How 
could a ship off the sea come there ? '^ 

" These things belong only to pronunciation, which is the 
least part of grammar," said Mrs. Garth. " That apple-peel is 
to be eaten by the pigs, Ben ; if you eat it, I must give them 
your piece of pasty. Job has only to speak about very plain 
things. How do you think you would write or speak about 
anj^thing more difficult, if j'Ou knew no more of grammar than 
he does ? You would use wrong words, and put words in the 
wrong places, and instead of making people understand you, 
they would turn away from you as a tiresome person. What 
would you do then ? " 

" I should n't care, I should leave off," said Ben, wdtli a sense 
that this was an agreeable issue where grammar was concerned. 

" I see you are getting tired and stupid, Ben," said Mrs. 
Garth, accustomed to these obstructive arguments from her 
male offspring. Having finished her pies, she moved towards 
the clothes-horse, and said, " Come here and tell me the story 
I told you on Wednesday, about Cincinnatus." 

" I know ! he was a farmer," said Ben. 

"Now, Ben, he w^as a Eoman — let me tell," said Letty, 
using her elbow contentiously. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 255 

"You silly thing, he was a Koman farmer, and he was 
ploughing." 

" Yes, but before that — that did n't come first — people 
wanted him," said Letty. 

" AYell, but you must say what sort of a man he was first," 
insisted Ben. " He was a wise man, like my father, and that 
made the people want his advice. And he was a brave man, 
and could fight. And so could my father — could n't he, 
mother ? " 

"Now, Ben, let me tell the story straight on, as mother 
told it us," said Letty, frowning. " Please, mother, tell Ben 
not to speak." 

" Letty, I am ashamed of you," said her mother, wringing 
out the caps from the tub. " When your brother began, you 
ought to have waited to see if he could not tell the story. 
How rude you look, pushing and frowning, as if you wanted 
to conquer with your elbows ! Cincinnatus, I am sure, would 
have been sorry to see his daughter behave so." (Mrs. Garth 
delivered this awful sentence with much majesty of enuncia- 
tion, and Letty felt that between repressed volubility and 
general disesteem, that of the Romans inclusive, life was 
already a painful affair.) " Now, Ben." 

"Well — oh — well — why, there was a great deal of fight- 
ing, and they were all blockheads, and — I can't tell it just 
how you told it — but they wanted a man to be captain and 
king and everything — " 

" Dictator, now," said Letty, with injured looks, and not 
without a wish to make her mother repent. 

"Yery well, dictator!" said Ben, contemptuously. "But 
that is n't a good word : he did n't tell them to write on 
slates." 

" Come, come, Ben, you are not so ignorant as that," said 
Mrs. Garth, carefully serious. " Hark, there is a knock at the 
door ! Run, Letty, and open it." 

The knock was Fred's ; and when Letty said that her father 
was not in yet, but that her mother was in the kitchen, Fred had 
no alternative. He could not depart from his usual practice of 
going to see Mrs. Garth in the kitchen if she happened to be 



256 MIDDLEMARCH. 

at work there. He put his arm round Letty's neck silenth', 
and led her into the kitchen without his usual jokes and 
caresses. 

Mrs. Garth was surprised to see Fred at this hour, but sur- 
prise was not a feeling that she was given to express, and she 
only said, quietly continuing her work — 

" You, Fred, so early in the day ? You look quite pale. 
Has anything happened ? " 

" I want to speak to Mr. Garth," said Fred, not yet ready 
to say more — "and to you also," he added, after a little 
pause, for he had no doubt that Mrs. Garth knew everything 
about the bill, and he must in the end speak of it before her, 
if not to her solely. 

" Caleb will be in again in a few minutes," said Mrs. Garth, 
who imagined some trouble between Fred and his father. 
" He is sure not to be long, because he has some work at his 
desk that must be done this morning. Do you mind staying 
with me, while I finish my matters here ? " 

"But we need n't go on about Cincinnatus, need we ? " said 
Ben, who had taken Fred's whip out of his hand, and was try- 
ing its efficiency on the cat. 

"Ko, go out now. But put that wliip down. How very 
mean of you to whip poor old Tortoise ! Pray take the whip 
from him, Fred." 

"Come, old boy, give it me," said Fred, putting out his 
hand. 

" Will you let me ride on your horse to-day ? " said Ben, ren- 
dering up the whip, with an air of not being obliged to do it. 

" Not to-day — another time. I am not riding my own 
horse." 

" Sliall you see Mary to-day ? " 

" Yes, I think so," said Fred, with an unpleasant twinge. 

" Tell her to come home soon, and play at forfeits, and 
make fun." 

" Enough, enough, Ben ! run away," said Mrs. Garth, seeing 
that Fred was teased. 

"Are Letty and Ben your only pupils now, Mrs. Garth ?" 
said Fred, when the children were gone and it was needful to 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 257 

say something that would pass the time. He was not yet 
sure whether he should wait for ^Mr. Garth, or use any good 
opportunity in conversation to confess to Mrs. Garth herself, 
give her the money and ride away. 

" One — only one. Fanny Hackbutt comes at half-past 
eleven. I am not getting a great income now," said Mrs. 
Garth, smiling. "I am at a low ebb with pupils. But I have 
saved my little purse for Alfred's premium : I have ninety- 
two pounds. He can go to Mr. Hanmer's now ; he is just at 
the right age." 

This did not lead well towards the news that Mr. Garth 
was on the brink of losing ninety-two pounds and more. Fred 
was silent. " Young gentlemen who go to college are rather 
more costly than that," Mrs. Garth innocently continued, 
pulling out the edging on a cap-border. " And Caleb thinks 
that Alfred will turn out a distinguished engineer : he wants 
to give the boy a good chance. There he is ! I hear him com- 
ing in. We will go to him in the parlor, shall we ?" 

When they entered the parlor Caleb had thrown down his 
hat and was seated at his desk. 

" What ! Fred, my boy ! " he said, in a tone of mild sur- 
prise, holding his pen still undipped ; " you are here betimes." 
But missing the usual expression of cheerful greeting in Fred's 
face, he immediately added, " Is there anything up at home ? 
— anything the matter ? " 

"Yes, Mr. Garth, I am come to tell something that I am 
afraid will give you a bad opinion of me. I am come to tell 
you and Mrs. Garth that I can't keep my word. I can't find 
the money to meet the bill after all. I have been unfortunate ; 
I have only got these fifty pounds towards the hundred and 
sixty." 

W^hile Fred was speaking, he had taken out the notes and 
laid them on the desk before Mr. Garth. He had burst forth 
at once with the plain fact, feeling boyishly miserable and 
without verbal resources. Mrs. Garth was mutely astonished, 
and looked at her husband for an explanation. Caleb blushed, 
and after a little pause said — 

"Oh, I did n't tell you. Susan: I put m}' name to a bill for 

VOT> VIT. 17 



258 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Fred ; it was for a hundred and sixty pounds. He made sure 
he could meet it himself." 

There was an evident change in Mrs. Garth's face, but it 
was like a change below the surface of w^ater which remains 
smooth. She fixed her 63^68 on Fred, saying — 

" I suppose you have asked your father for the rest of the 
money and he has refused you." 

"No," said Fred, biting his lip, and speaking with more 
difficulty ; " but I know it will be of no use to ask him ; and 
unless it were of use, I should not like to mention Mr. Garth's 
name in the matter." 

" It has come at an unfortunate time," said Caleb, in his hesi- 
tating way, looking down at the notes and nervously fingering 
the paper, " Christmas upon us — I 'm rather hard up just 
now. You see, I have to cut out everything like a tailor with 
short measure. What can we do, Susan ? I shall want ever}^ 
farthing we have in the bank. It's a hundred and ten 
pounds, the deuce take it ! " 

" I must give you the ninety-two pounds that I have put by 
for Alfred's premium," said Mrs. Garth, gravely and decisively, 
though a nice ear might have discerned a slight tremor in 
some of the words. " And I have no doubt that Mary has 
twenty pounds saved from her salary by this time. She will 
advance it." 

Mrs. Garth had not again looked at Fred, and was not in 
the least calculating what words she should use to cut him the 
most effectively. Like the eccentric woman she was, she was 
at present absorbed in considering what was to be done, and 
did not fancy that the end could be better achieved by bitter 
remarks or explosions. But she had made Fred feel for the 
first time something like the tooth of remorse. Curiously 
enough, his pain in the affair beforehand had consisted almost 
entirely in the sense that he must seem dishonorable, and sink 
in the opinion of the Garths : he had not occupied himself 
with the inconvenience and possible injury that his breach 
might occasion them, for this exercise of tlie imagination on 
other people's needs is not common with hopeful youug gen- 
tlemen. Indeed we are most of us brought up in the notion 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 259 

that the highest motive for not doing a wrong is something 
irrespective of the beings who would suffer the wrong. But 
at this moment he suddenly saw himself as a pitiful rascal 
who was robbing two women of their savings. 

" I shall certainly pay it all, Mrs. Garth — ultimatel}'/'' he 
stammered out. 

" Yes, ultimately," said ]\Irs. Garth, who having a special 
dislike to fine words on ugly occasions, could not now repress 
an epigram. " But boys cannot well be apprenticed ultimately : 
they should be apprenticed at fifteen." She had never been 
so little inclined to make excuses for Fred. 

" I was the most in the wrong, Susan." said Caleb. *' Fred 
made sure of finding the money. But I 'd no business to be 
fingering bills. I suppose 3^ou have looked all round and tried 
all honest means ? " he added, fixing his merciful gray eyes 
on Fred. Caleb was too delicate to specify Mr. Featherstone. 

"Yes, I have tried everything — I really have. I should 
have had a hundred and thirty pounds ready but for a misfor- 
tune with a horse which I was about to sell. My uncle had 
given me eighty pounds, and I paid away thirty with my old 
horse in order to get another which I was going to sell for 
eighty or more — I meant to go without a horse — but now it 
has turned out vicious and lamed itself. I wish I and the 
horses too had been at the devil, before I had brought this on 
you. There 's no one else I care so much for : you and Mrs. 
Garth have always been so kind to me. However, it 's no use 
saying that. You will always think me a rascal now." 

Fred turned round and hurried out of the room, conscious 
that he was getting rather womanish, and feeling confusedly 
that his being sorry was not of much use to the Garths. They 
could see him mount, and quickly pass through the gate. 

" I am disappointed in Fred Yincy," said Mrs. Garth. " I 
would not have believed beforehand that he would have drawn 
3'ou into his debts. I knew he was extravagant, but I did not 
think that he would be so mean as to hang his risks on his 
oldest friend, who could the least afford to lose." 

" I was a fool, Susan." 

"That you were," said the wife, nodding and smiling. "But 



260 MIDDLEMARCH. 

I should not have gone to publish it in the market-place. 
Why should you keep such things from me ? It is just so 
with your buttons : you let them burst off without telling me, 
and go out with your wristband hanging. If I had only known 
I might have been ready with some better plan." 

" You are sadly cut up, I know, Susan," said Caleb, looking 
feelingly at her. " I can't abide your losing the money you 've 
scraped together for Alfred." 

" It is very well that I had scraped it together ; and it is 
you who will have to suffer, for you must teach the boy your- 
self. You must give up your bad habits. Some men take to 
drinking, and' you have taken to working without pay. You 
must indulge yourself a little less in that. And you must ride 
over to Marj^, and ask the child what money she has." 

Caleb had pushed his chair back, and was leaning forward, 
shaking his head slowly, and fitting his finger-tips together 
with much nicety. 

" Poor Mary ! " he said. " Susan," he went on in a lowered 
tone, ^' I 'm afraid she may be fond of Fred." 

" Oh no ! She always laughs at him ; and he is not likely 
to think of her in any other than a brotherly way." 

Caleb made no rejoinder, but presently lowered his specta- 
cles, drew up his chair to the desk, and said, "Deuce take the 
bill — I wish it was at Hanover ! These things are a sad 
interruption to business ! " 

The first part of this speech comprised liis whole store of 
maledictory expression, and was uttered with a slight snarl 
easy to imagine. But it would be difiicult to convey to those 
who never heard him utter the word "business," the peculiar 
tone of fervid veneration, of religious regard, in which he 
wrapped it, as a consecrated symbol is wrapped in its gold- 
fringed linen. 

Caleb Garth often shook his head in meditation on the 
value, the indispensable might of that myriad-headed, myriad- 
handed labor by which the social body is fed, clothed, and 
housed. It had laid hold of his imagination in boyhood. The 
echoes of the great hammer where roof or keel were a-making, 
the signal-shouts of the workmen, the roar of the furnace, the 



WAITING FUK DEATH. 261 

thunder and plash of the engine, were a sublime music to him ; 
the felling and lading of timber, and the huge trunk vibrating 
star-like in the distance along the highway, the crane at work 
on the wharf, the piled-up produce in warehouses, the pre- 
cision and variety of muscular effort wherever exact work had 
to be turned out, — all these sights of his youth had acted on 
him as poetry without the aid of the poets, had made a philos- 
ophy for him without the aid of philosophers, a religion with- 
out the aid of theology. His early ambition had been to have 
as effective a share as possible in this sublime labor, which was 
peculiarly dignified by him with the name of '• business ; " and 
though he had only been a short time under a surveyor, and had 
been chiefly his own teacher, he knew more of land, building, 
and mining than most of the special men in the county. 

His classihcation of human employments was rather crude, 
and, like the categories of more celebrated men, would not be 
acceptable in these advanced times. He divided them into 
" business, politics, preaching, learning, and amusement." He 
had nothing to say against the last four ; but he regarded 
them as a reverential pagan regarded other gods than his own. 
In the same way, he thought very well of all ranks, but he 
would not himself have liked to be of any rank in which he 
had not such close contact with " business " as to get often 
honorably decorated with marks of dust and mortar, the damp 
of the engine, or the sweet soil of the woods and fields. 
Though he had never regarded himself as other than an or- 
thodox Christian, and would argue on prevenient grace if the 
subject were proposed to him, I think his virtual divinities 
were good practical schemes, accurate work, and the faithful 
completion of undertakings : his prince of darkness was a 
slack workman. But there was no spirit of denial in Caleb, 
and the world seemed so wondrous to him that he was ready 
to accept any number of systems, like any number of firma- 
ments, if they did not obviously interfere with the best 
land-drainage, solid building, correct measuring, and judicious 
boring (for coal). In fact, he had a reverential soul with a 
strong practical intelligence. But he could not manage finance : 
he knew values well, but he had no keenness of imagination 



262 MIDDLEMARCH. 

for monetary results in the shape of profit and loss : and 
having ascertained this to his cost, he determined to give up 
all forms of his beloved " business " which required that 
talent. He gave himself up entirely to the many kinds of 
work which he could do without handling capital, and was 
one of those precious men within his own district whom every- 
body would choose to work for them, because he did his work 
well, charged very little, and often declined to charge at all. 
It is no wonder, then, that the Garths were poor, and " lived 
in a small way." However, they did not mind it. 



CHAPTEE XXV. 

Love seeketh not itself to please, 

Nor for itself liatli any care, 
But for another gives its ease, 

And builds a heaven in hell's despair. 

Love seeketh only self to please, 

To bind another to its delight, 
Joys in another's loss of ease, 

And builds a hell in heaven's despite. 

W. Blake : Soiujs of Experience. 

Fred Vtncy wanted to arrive at Stone Court when Mary 
could not expect him, and when his uncle was not down-stairs : 
in that case she might be sitting alone in the wainscoted 
parlor. He left his horse in the yard to avoid making a 
noise on the gravel in front, and entered the parlor without 
other notice than the noise of the door-handle. Mary was in 
her usual corner, laughing over Mrs. Piozzi's recollections of 
Johnson, and looked up with the fun still in her face. It 
gradually faded as she saw Fred approach her without speak- 
ing, and stand before her with his elbow on the mantel-piece, 
looking ill. She too was silent, only raising her eyes to him 
inquiringly. 

" Mary," he began, " I am a good-for-nothing blackguard." 



AVAITING FOR DEATH. 263 

" I should think one of those epithets would do at a time," 
said Mary, trying to smile, but feeling alarmed. 

" I know you will never think well of me any more. You 
will think me a liar. You will think me dishonest. You will 
think I didn't care for you, or your father and mother. You 
always do make the worst of me, I know." 

" I cannot deny that I shall think all that of you, Fred, if 
you give me good reasons. But please to tell me at once what 
you have done. I would rather know the painful truth thau 
imagine it." 

"I owed money — a liundred and sixty pounds. I asked 
your father to put his name to a bill. I thought it would not 
signify to him. I made sure of paying the money myself, and 
I have tried as hard as I could. And now, I have been so 
unlucky — a horse has turned out badly — I can only pay 
fifty pounds. And I can't ask my father for the money : he 
would not give me a farthing. And my luicle gave me a hun- 
dred a little while ago. So what can I do ? And now your 
father has no ready money to spare, and your mother will 
have to pay away her ninety-two pounds that she has saved, 
and she says your savings must go too. You see what a — " 

" Oh, poor mother, poor father ! " said Mary, her eyes filling 
with tears, and a little sob rising which she tried to repress. 
She looked straight before her and took no notice of Fred, all 
the consequences at home becoming present to her. He too 
remained silent for some moments, feeling more miserable 
tlian ever. 

" I would n't have hurt you so for the world, Mary," he 
said at last. " You can never forgive me." 

" What does it matter whether I forgive you ? " said Mary, 
passionately. " AVould that make it any better for my mother 
to lose the money she has been earning by lessons for four 
years, that she might send Alfred to Mr. Hanmer's ? Should 
you think all that pleasant enough if I forgave you ? " 

" Say what you like, Mary. I deserve it all." 

" I don't want to say anything," said Mary, more quietly ; 
" my anger is of no use." She dried her eyes, threw aside 
her book, rose and fetched her sewing. 



264 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Fred followed her with his eyes^ hoping that they would 
meet hers, and in that way find access for his imploring peni- 
tence. But no ! Mary could easily avoid looking upward. 

'•'I do care about your mother's money going," he said, 
when she was seated again and sewing quickly. " I wanted 
to ask you, Mary — don't you think that Mr. Featherstone — 
if you were to tell him — tell him, I mean, about apprenticing 
Alfred — would advance the money ? " 

"]\ry family is not fond of begging, Fred. We would rather 
work for our money. Besides, you say that Mr. Featherstone 
has lately given you a hundred pounds. He rarely makes 
presents ; he has never made presents to us. I am sure my 
father will not ask liim for anything ; and even if I chose to 
beg of him, it would be of no use." 

" I am so miserable, Mary — if you knew how miserable I 
am, you would be sorry for me." 

" There are other things to be more sorry for than that. 
But selfish people always think their own discomfort of more 
importance than anything else in the world : I see enough of 
that every day." 

"It is hardly fair to call me selfish. If you knew what 
things other young men do, you would think me a good way 
off the worst." 

" I know that people who spend a great deal of money on 
themselves without knowing how they shall pay, must be 
selfish. They are always thinking of what they can get for 
themselves, and not of what other people may lose." 

-' Any man may be unfortunate, Mary, and find himself 
unable to pay wdien he meant it. There is not a better man 
in the world than your father, and yet he got into trouble." 

" How dare you make any comparison between my father 
and you, Fred ? " said Mary, in a deep tone of indignation. 
" He never got into trouble by thinking of his own idle pleas- 
ures, but because he was always thinking of the work he was 
doing for other people. And he has fared liard, and worked 
hard to make good everybody's loss." 

" And you think that I shall never try to make good any- 
thing, Mary. It is not generous to believe the worst of a 



WAITINU FOK DEATH. 265 

man. When you have got any power over him, I think you 
might try and use it to make him better ; but that is what 
you never do. However, I 'm going," Fred ended, languidly. 
" I shall never speak to you about anything again. I 'm very 
sorry for all the trouble I 've caused — that 's all." 

Mary had dropped her work out of her hand and looked up. 
There is often something maternal even in a girlish love, and 
Mary's hard experience had wrought her nature to an impres- 
sibility very different from that hard slight thing which we 
call girlislmess. At Fred's last words she felt an instantane- 
ous pang, something like what a mother feels at the imagined 
sobs or cries of her naughty truant child, which may lose 
itself and get harm. And when, looking up, lier eyes met his 
dull despairing glance, her pity for him surmounted her anger 
and all her other anxieties. 

" Oh, Fred, how ill you look ! Sit down a moment. Don't 
go yet. Let me tell uncle that you are here. He has been 
wondering that he has not seen you for a whole week." Mary 
spoke hurriedly, saying the words that came first without 
knowing very well what they were, but saying them in a half- 
soothing half-beseeching tone, and rising as if to go away to 
Mr. Featherstone. Of course Fred felt as if the clouds had 
parted and a gleam had come : he moved and stood in her 
way. 

"Say one word, ISIary, and I will do anything. Say 
you will not think the worst of me — will not give me up 
altogether." 

" As if it were any pleasure to me to think ill of you," said 
Mary, in a mournful tone. " As if it were not very painful to 
me to see you an idle frivolous creature. How can you bear 
to be so contemptible, when others are working and striving, 
and there are so many things to be done — how can you bear 
to be fit for nothing in the world that is useful ? And with 
so much good in your disposition, Fred, — you might be worth 
a great deal." 

" I will try to be anything you like, Mar^^, if you will say 
that you love me." 

" I should be a&hamed to say that I loved a man who must 



266 MIDDLEMARCH. 

always be hanging on others, and reckoning on what they 
would do for him. What will you be when you are forty ? 
Like Mr. Bowyer, I suppose — just as idle, living in Mrs. 
Beck's front parlor — fat and shabby, hoping somebody will 
invite you to dinner — spending your morning in learning a 
comic song — oh no ! learning a tune on the flute." 

Mary's lips had begun to curl with a smile as soon as she 
had asked that question about Fred's future (young souls are 
mobile), and before she ended, her face had its full illumina- 
tion of fun. To him it was like the cessation of an ache that 
Mary could laugh at him, and with a passive sort of smile he 
tried to reach her hand ; but she slipped away quickly towards 
the door and said, " I shall tell uncle. You must see him for 
a moment or two." 

Fred secretly felt that his future was guaranteed against 
the fulfilment of Mary's sarcastic prophecies, apart from that 
" anything " which he was ready to do if she would define it. 
He never dared in Mary's presence to approach the subject 
of his expectations from Mr. Featherstone, and she always 
ignored them, as if everything depended on himself. But if 
ever he actually came into the property, she must recognize 
the change in his position. All this passed through his mind 
somewhat languidly, before he went up to see his uncle. He 
stayed but a little while, excusing himself on the ground that 
he had a cold ; and Mary did not reappear before he left the 
house. But as he rode home, he began to be more conscious 
of being ill, than of being melancholy. 

When Caleb Garth arrived at Stone Court soon after dusk, 
Mary was not surprised, although he seldom had leisure for 
paying her a visit, and was not at all fond of having to talk 
with Mr. Featherstone. The old man, on the other hand, felt 
himself ill at ease with a brother-in-law whom he could not 
annoy, who did not mind about being considered poor, had 
nothing to ask of him, and understood all kinds of farming 
and mining business better than he did. But iNIary had felt 
sure that her parents would want to see her, and if her father 
had not come, she would have obtained leave to go home for 
an hour or two the next day. After discussing prices during 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 267 

tea with Mr. Featlierstoue, Caleb rose to bid him good-by, aud 
said, " I want to speak to you, Mary." 

She took a caudle into another large parlor, where there 
was no fire, and setting down the feeble light on the dark 
mahogany table, turned round to her father, and putting her 
arms round his neck kissed him with childish kisses which 
he delighted in, — the expression of his large brows softening 
as the expression of a great beautiful dog softens wdien it is 
caressed. Mary was his favorite child, and whatever Susan 
might say, and right as she was on all other subjects, Caleb 
thought it natural that Fred or any one else should think 
Mary more lovable than other girls. 

" I 've got something to tell you, my dear," said Caleb in 
his hesitating way. "No very good news; but then it might 
be worse." 

" About money, father ? I think I know what it is." 

"Ay ? how can that be ? You see, I 've been a bit of a fool 
again, and put my name to a bill, and now it comes to paying ; 
and your mother has got to part with her savings, that's the 
worst of it, and even they won't quite make things even. We 
wanted a hundred and ten pounds : your mother has ninety- 
two, and I have none to spare in the bank ; and she thinks 
that you have some savings." 

" Oh yes ; I have more than four-and-twenty pounds. I 
thought you would come, father, so I put it in my bag. See ! 
beautiful white notes and gold.'^ 

Mary took out the folded money from her reticule and put 
it into her father's hand. 

"Well, but how — we only want eighteen — here, put the 
rest back, child, — but how did you know about it ? " said 
Caleb, who, in his unconquerable indifference to money, was 
beginning to be chiefly concerned about the relation the affair 
might have to Mary's affections. 

" Fred told me this morning." 

" Ah ! Did he come on purpose ? " 

" Yes, I think so. He was a good deal distressed." 

"I'm afraid FVed is not to be trusted, Mary," said the 
father, with hesitating tenderness. "He means better than 



268 MIDDLEMARCH. 

he acts, perhaps. Hut I should think it a pity for any- 
body's happiness to be wrapped up in him, and so would 
your mother." 

'• And so should I, father," said Mary, not looking up, but 
putting the back of her father's hand against her cheek. 

^^I don't want to pry, my dear. But I was afraid there 
might be something between you and Fred, and I wanted to 
caution you. You see, Mar}^ " — here Caleb's voice became 
more tender ; he had been pushing his hat about on the table 
and looking at it, but finally he turned his eyes on his daughter 
— "a woman, let her be as good as she may, has got to put 
up with the life her husband makes for her. Your mother 
has had to put up with a good deal because of me." 

Mary turned the back of her father's hand to her lips and 
smiled at him. 

" Well, well, nobody 's perfect, but " — here Mr. Garth shook 
his head to help out the inadequacy of words — " what I am 
thinking of is — what it must be for a wife when she 's never 
sure of her husband, when he has n't got a principle in him to 
make him more afraid of doing the wrong thing by others 
than of getting his own toes pinched. That 's the long and 
the short of it, Mary. Young folks may get fond of each 
other before they know what life is, and they may think it all 
holiday if they can only get together ; but it soon turns into 
working day, my dear. However, you have more sense than 
most, and you have n't been kept in cotton- wool : there may 
be no occasion for me to say this, but a father trembles for his 
daughter, and you are all by yourself here." 

'' Don't fear for me, father," said Mary, gravely meeting her 
father's eyes ; " Fred has always been very good to me ; he is 
kind-hearted and affectionate, and not false, I think, with all 
his self-indulgence. But I will never engage myself to one 
who has no manly independence, and who goes on loitering 
away his time on the chance that others will provide for him. 
You and my mother have taught me too much pride for that." 

" That 's right — that 's right. Then I am easy," said Mr. 
Garth, taking up his hat. "But it's hard to run away with 
your earnings, child." 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 269 

" Father ! " said Mary, in her deepest tone of remonstrance. 
" Take pocketf uls of love besides to them all at home," was 
her last word before he closed the outer door on himself. 

" I suppose your father wanted your earnings," said old Mr. 
Featherstone, with his usual power of unpleasant surmise, when 
Mary returned to him. " He makes but a tight fit, I reckon. 
You 're of age now ; you ought to be saving for yourself." 

" I consider my father and mother the best part of myself, 
sir," said Mary, coldly. 

Mr. Featherstone grunted : he could not deny that an ordi- 
nary sort of girl like her might be expected to be useful, so 
he thought of another rejoinder, disagreeable enough to be 
always apropos. ^'If Fred Vincy comes to-morrow, now, don't 
you keep him chattering : let him come up to me." 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

He beats me and 1 rail at liim : O worthy satisfaction ! would it were 
otherwise — that I could beat him while he railed at me. — Troilus and 
Cressida. 

But Fred did not go to Stone Court the next day, for rea- 
sons that were quite peremptory. From those visits to unsani- 
tary Houndsley streets in search of Diamond, he had brought 
back not only a bad bargain in horse-flesh, but the further 
misfortune of some ailment which for a day or two had seemed 
mere depression and headache, but which got so mueli worse 
when he returned from his visit to Stone Court that, going into 
the dining-room, he threw himself on the sofa, and in answer 
to his mother's anxious question, said, '' I feel very ill : T think 
you must send for Wrench." 

Wrench came, but did not apprehend anytliing serious, spoke 
of a " slight derangement," and did not speak of coming again 
on the morrow. He had a due value for the Yincys' house, 
but the wariest men are apt to be dulled by routine, and on 



270 MIDDLEMARCH. 

worried mornings will sometimes go through their business 
with the zest of the daily bell-ringer. Mr. Wrench was a 
small, neat, bilious man, with a well-dressed wig : he had a 
laborious practice, an irascible temper, a lymphatic wife and 
seven children ; and he was already rather late before setting 
out on a four-miles drive to meet Dr. Minchin on the other 
side of Tipton, the decease of Hicks, a rural practitioner, hav- 
ing increased Middlemarch practice in that direction. Great 
statesmen err, and why not small medical men ? Mr. Wrench 
did not neglect sending the usual white parcels, which this 
time had black and drastic contents. Their effect was not 
alleviating to poor Fred, who, however, unwilling as he said 
to believe that he was "in for an illness," rose at his usual 
easy hour the next morning and went down-stairs meaning to 
breakfast, but succeeded in nothing but in sitting and shiver- 
ing by the fire. Mr. Wrench was again sent for, but was gone 
on his rounds, and Mrs. Vincy seeing her darling's changed 
looks and general misery, began to cry and said she would 
send for Dr. Sprague. 

" Oh, nonsense, mother ! It 's nothing," said Fred, putting 
out his hot dry hand to her, " I shall soon be all right. I must 
have taken cold in that nasty damp ride." 

" Mamma ! " said Eosamond, who was seated near the win- 
dow (the dining-room windows looked on that highly respecta- 
ble street called Lowick Gate), "there is Mr. Lydgate, stopping 
to speak to some one. If I were you I would call him in. He 
has cured Ellen Bulstrode. They say he cures every one." 

Mrs. Vincy sprang to the window and opened it in an in- 
stant, thinking only of Fred and not of medical etiquette. 
Lydgate was only two yards off on the other side of some iron 
palisading, and turned round at the sudden sound of the sash, 
before she called to him. In two minutes he was in the room, 
and Kosamond went out, after waiting just long enough to 
show a pretty anxiety conflicting with her sense of what was 
becoming. 

Lydgate had to hear a narrative in which Mrs. Vincy's mind 
insisted with remarkable instinct on every point of minor im- 
portance, especially on what Mr. Wrench had said and had not 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 271 

said about coming again. That there might be an awkward 
affair with Wrench, Lydgate saw at once ; but the case was 
serious enough to make him dismiss that consideration : he 
was convinced that Fred was in the pink-skinned stage of ty- 
phoid fever, and that he had taken just the w^rong medicines. 
He must go to bed immediately, must have a regular nurse, 
and various appliances and precautions must be used, about 
which Lydgate was particular. Poor IMrs. Yincy's terror at 
these indications of danger found vent in such words as came 
most easily. She thought it " very ill usage on the part of Mr. 
W^rench, who had attended their house so many years in pref- 
erence to Mr. Peacock, though Mr. Peacock was equally a 
friend. Why Mr. Wrench should neglect her children more 
than others, she could not for the life of her understand. He 
had not neglected Mrs. Larcher's when they -had the measles, 
nor indeed would ^Irs. Vincy have wished that he should. 
And if anything should happen — " 

Here poor Mrs. Vincy 's spirit quite broke down, and her Niobe 
throat and good-humored face were sadly convulsed. This 
was in the hall out of Fred's hearing, but Rosamond had opened 
the drawing-room door, and now came forward anxiously. 
Lydgate apologized for Mr. Wrench, said that the symptoms 
yesterday might have been disguising, and that this form of 
fever was very equivocal in its beginnings : he would go imme- 
diately to the druggist's and have a prescription made up in 
order to lose no time, but he would write to Mr. Wrench and 
tell him what had been done. 

"But you must come again — you must go on attending 
Fred. I can't have my boy left to anybody who may come or 
not. I bear nobody ill-will, thank God, and ^Mr. Wrench saved 
me in the pleurisy, but he 'd better have let me die — if — 
if — " 

" I will meet Mr. W^rench here, then, shall I ? " said Lyd- 
gate, really believing that W^rench was not well prepared to 
deal wisely with a case of this kind. 

"Pray make that arrangement, Mr. Lydgate," said Rosa- 
mond, coming to her mother's aid, and supporting her arm to 
lead her away. 



272 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

When Mr. Vincy came home he was very angry with Wrench, 
and did not care if he never came into his house again. Lyd- 
gate should go on now, whether Wrench liked it or not. It 
was no joke to have fever in the house. Everybody must be 
sent to now, not to come to dinner on Thursday. And Prit- 
chard need n't get up any wine : brandy was the best thing 
against infection. ''I shall drink brandy," added Mr. Vincy? 
emphatically — as much as to say, this was not an occasion 
for firing with blank-cartridges. " He 's an uncommonly un- 
fortunate lad, is Fred. He 'd need have some luck by-and-by 
to make up for all this — else I don't know who 'd have an 
eldest son." 

"Don't say so, Vincy," said the mother, with a quivering lip, 
"if you don't want him to be taken from me." 

" It will worret you to death, Lucy ; that I can see," said 
Mr. Vincy, more mildly. " However, Wrench shall know what 
I think of the matter." (What Mr. Vincy thought confusedly 
was, that the fever might somehow have been hindered if 
Wrench had shown the proper solicitude about his — the 
Mayor's — family.) "I'm the last man to give in to the cry 
about new doctors, or new parsons either — whether they're 
Bulstrode's men or not. But Wrench shall know what I think, 
take it as he will." 

Wrench did not take it at all well. Lydgate was as polite 
as he could be in his offhand way, but politeness in a man who 
has placed you at a disadvantage is only an additional exas- 
peration, especially if he happens to have been an object of 
dislike beforehand. Country practitioners used to be an irri- 
table species, susceptible on the point of honor; and Mr. 
Wrench was one of the most irritable among them. He did not 
refuse to meet Lydgate in the evening, but his temper was 
somewhat tried on the occasion. He had to hear Mrs. Vincy 
say — 

" Oh, Mr. Wrench, what have I ever done that you should 
use me so ? — To go away, and never to come again ! And my 
boy might have been stretched a corpse ! " 

Mr. Vincy, who had been keeping up a sharp fire on the 
enemy Infection, and was a good deal heated in consequence^ 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 273 

started up when he heard Wrench come in, and went into the 
hall to let him know what he thought. 

" I '11 tell you what, Wrench, this is beyond a joke," said the 
Mayor, who of late had had to rebuke offenders with an official 
air, and now broadened himself by putting his thumbs in his 
armholes. — "To let fever get unawares into a house like this. 
There are some things that ought to be actionable, and are not 
so — that 's my opinion." 

But irrational reproaches were easier to bear than the sense 
of being instructed, or rather the sense that a younger man, 
like Lydgate, inwardly considered him in need of instruction, 
for " in point of fact," Mr. W^rench afterwards said, Lydgate 
paraded flighty, foreign notions, which would not wear. He 
swallowed his ire for the moment, but he afterwards wrote to 
decline further attendance in the case. The house might be a 
good one, but INIr. Wrench was not going to truckle to anybody 
on a professional matter. He reflected, with much probability 
on his side, that Lydgate would by-and-by be caught tripping 
too, and that his ungentleraanly attempts to discredit the sale 
of drugs by his professional brethren, would by-and-by recoil 
on himself. He threw out biting remarks on Lydgate's tricks, 
worthy only of a quack, to get himself a factitious reputation 
with credulous people. That cant about cures was never got 
up by sound practitioners. 

This was a point on which Lydgate smarted as much as 
Wrench could desire. To be puffed by ignorance was not only 
humiliating, but perilous, and not more enviable than the repu- 
tation of the weather-prophet. He was impatient of the foolish 
expectations amidst which all work must be carried on, and 
likely enough to damage himself as much as Mr. W^rench could 
wish, by an unprofessional openness. 

However, Lydgate was installed as medical attendant on the 
Yincys, and the event was a subject of general conversation in 
Middlemarch. Some said, that the Vincys had behaved scan- 
dalously, that Mr. Vincy had threatened W^-ench, and that Mrs. 
Vincy had accused him of poisoning her son. Others were of 
opinion that ^Er. Lydgate's passing by was providential, that 
he was wonderfully clever in fevers, and that Bulstrode was in 

VOL. VII. 18 



274 MIDDLEMARCH. 

the right to bring him forward. Many people lelieved that 
Lydgate's coming to the town at all was really due to Bul- 
strode ; and Mrs. Taft, who was always counting stitches and 
gathered her information iu misleading fragments caught be- 
tween the rows of her knitting, had got it into her head that 
Mr. Lydgate was a natural son of Bulstrode's, a fact which 
seemed to justify her suspicions of evangelical laymen. 

She one day communicated this piece of knowledge to Mrs. 
Farebrother, who did not fail to tell her son of it, observing — 

" I should not be surprised at anything in Bulstrode, but I 
should be sorry to think it of iSIr. Lydgate." 

"AVhy, mother," said Mr. Farebrother, after an explosive 
laugh, " you know very well that Lydgate is of a good family 
in the North. He never heard of Bulstrode before he came 
here." 

" That is satisfactory so far as Mr. Lydgate is concerned, 
Camden," said the old lad}^, with an air of precision. — " But 
as to Bulstrode — the report may be true of some other son." 



CHAPTEE XXVIL 

" Let the high Muse chant loves Olympian : 
We are but mortals, and must siug of man." 

An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify 
even your ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of 
science, has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass 
or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a 
housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in 
all directions ; but place now against it a lighted candle as a 
centre of illumination, and lo ! the scratches will seem to 
arrange themselves in a line series of concentric circles round 
that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are going 
everywhere impartially, and it is only your candle which pro- 
duces the flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 275 

light falling with an exclusive optical selection. These things 
are a parable. The scratches are events, and the candle is the 
egoism of any person now absent — of Miss Vincy, for exam- 
ple. Kosaniond had a Providence of her ow^n who had kindly 
made her more charming than other girls, and who seemed to 
have arranged Fred's illness and Mr. Wrench's mistake in order 
to bring her and Lydgate within effective proximity. It w^ould 
have been to contravene these arrangements if Rosamond had 
consented to go away to Stone Court or elsewhere, as her 
parents wished her to do, especially since Mr. Lydgate thought 
the precaution needless. Therefore, while Miss Morgan and 
the children were sent away to a farmhouse the morning after 
Fred's illness had declared itself, Rosamond refused to leave 
papa and mamma. 

Poor mamma indeed was an object to touch any creature 
born of woman ; and Mr. Vincy, who doted on his wife, was 
more alarmed on her account than on Fred's. But for his in- 
sistance she would have taken no rest : her brightness was all 
bedimmed; unconscious of her costume which had always been 
so fresh and gay, she was like a sick bird with languid eye 
and plumage ruffled, her senses dulled to the sights and sounds 
that used most to interest her. Fred's delirium, in which he 
seemed to be wandering out of her reach, tore her heart. After 
her first outburst against Mr. Wrench she went about very 
quietly : her one low cry was to Lydgate. She would follow 
him out of the room and put her hand on his arm moaning out, 
" Save my boy." Once she pleaded, " He has always been 
good to me, ^Ir. Lydgate : he never had a hard word for his 
mother," — as if poor Fred's suffering were an accusation 
against him. All the deepest fibres of the mother's memory 
were stirred, and the young man whose voice took a gentler 
tone when he spoke to her, was one with the babe whom she 
had loved, with a love new to her, before he was born. 

" I have good hope, Mrs. Vincy," Lydgate would say. 
"Come down with me and let us talk about the food." In 
that way he led her to the parlor where Rosamond was, 
and made a change for her, surprising her into taking some 
tea or broth w^hich had been prepared for her. There was a 



276 MIDDLEMARCH. 

constant understanding between him and Kosamond on these 
matters. He almost always saw her before going to the sick- 
room, and she appealed to him as to what she could do for 
mamma. Her presence of mind and adroitness in carrying 
out his hints were admirable, and it is not wonderful that the 
idea of seeing Eosamond began to mingle itself with his in- 
terest in the case. Especially when the critical stage was 
passed, and he began to feel confident of Fred's recovery. In 
the more doubtful time, he had advised calling in Dr. Sprague 
(who, if he could, would rather have remained neutral on 
Wrench's account) ; but after two consultations, the conduct 
of the case was left to Lydgate, and there was every reason 
to make him assiduous. Morning and evening he was at 
Mr. Vincy's, and gradually the visits became cheerful as Fred 
became simply feeble, and lay not only in need of the utmost 
petting but conscious of it, so that Mrs. Vincy felt as if, after 
all, the illness had made a festival for her tenderness. 

Both father and mother held it an added reason for good 
spirits, when old Mr. Featherstone sent messages by Lydgate, 
saying tliat Fred must make haste and get well, as he, Peter 
Featherstone, could not do without him, and missed his visits 
sadly. The old man himself was getting bedridden. Mrs. 
Vincy told these messages to Fred when he could listen, and 
he turned towards her his delicate, pinched face, from which 
all the thick blond hair had been cut away, and in Avhich the 
eyes seemed to have got larger, yearning for some word about 
Mary — wondering what she felt about his illness. No word 
passed his lips ; but " to hear with eyes belongs to love's rare 
wit," and the mother in the fulness of her heart not only 
divined Fred's longing, but felt ready for any sacrifice in order 
to satisfy him. 

"If I can only see my boy strong again," she said, in her 
loving folly; "and who knows? — perhaps master of Stone 
Court ! and he can marry anybody he likes then." 

"Not if they won't have me, mother," said Fred. The ill- 
ness had made him childish, and tears came as he spoke. 

"Oh, take a bit of jelly, my dear," said Mrs. Vincy, secretly 
incredulous of any such refusal. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 277 

She never left Fred's side when her husband was not in the 
house, and thus Kosamond was in the unusual position of 
being much alone. Lydgate, naturally, never thought of stay- 
ing long with her, yet it seemed that the brief impersonal 
conversations they had together were creating that peculiar 
intimacy which consists in shyness. They were obliged to 
look at each other in speaking, and somehow the looking could 
not be carried through as the matter of course which it really 
was. Lydgate began to feel this sort of consciousness unpleas- 
ant and one day looked down, or anywhere, like an ill-worked 
puppet. But this turned out badly : the next day, Rosamond 
looked down, and the consequence was that when their eyes 
met again, both were more conscious than before. There was 
no help for this in science, and as Lydgate did not want to 
flirt, there seemed to be no help for it in folly. It was there- 
fore a relief when neiglibors no longer considered the house in 
quarantine, and when the chances of seeing Rosamond alone 
were very much reduced. 

But that intimacy of mutual embarrassment, in which each 
feels that the other is feeling something, having once existed, 
its effect is not to be done away with. Talk about the weather 
and other well-bred topics is apt to seem a hollow device, and 
behavior can hardly become easy unless it frankly recognizes 
a mutual fascination — which of course need not mean any- 
thing deep or serious. This was the way in which Rosamond 
and Lydgate slid gracefully into ease, and made their inter- 
course lively again. Visitors came and went as usual, there 
was once more music in the drawing-room, and all the extra 
liospitality of i\tr. Vincy's mayoralty returned. Lydgate, when- 
ever he could, took his seat by Rosamond's side, and lingered 
to hear her music, calling himself her captive — meaning, all 
the while, not to be her captive. The preposterousness of the 
notion that he could at once set up a satisfactory establish- 
ment as a married man was a sufficient guarantee against 
danger. This play at being a little in love was agreeable, and 
did not interfere with graver pursuits. Flirtation, after all, 
was not necessarily a singeing process. Rosamond, for her 
part, had never enjoyed the days so much in her life before : 



278 MIDDLEMARCH. 

she was sure of being admired by some one worth captivating, 
and she did not distinguish flirtation from love, either in her- 
self or in another. She seemed to be sailing with a fair wind 
just w^hither she would go, and her thoughts were much occu- 
pied with a handsome house in Lowick Gate which she hoped 
would by-and-by be vacant. She was quite determined, when 
she was married, to rid herself adroitly of all the visitors who 
were not agreeable to her at her father's ; and she imagined 
the drawing-room in her favorite house with various styles of 
furniture. 

Certainly her thoughts were much occupied with Lydgate 
himself ; he seemed to her almost perfect : if he had known 
his notes so that his enchantment under her music had been 
less like an emotional elephant's, and if he had been able to 
discriminate better the refinements of her taste in dress, she 
could hardly have mentioned a deficiency in him. How differ- 
ent he was from young Plymdale or Mr. Caius Larcher ! 
Those young men had not a notion of French, and could speak 
on no subject wdth striking knowledge, except perhaps the 
dyeing and carrying trades, which of course they were ashamed 
to mention ; they were Middlemarch gentry, elated with their 
silver-headed whips and satin stocks, but embarrassed in tlieir 
manners, and timidly jocose : even Fred was above them, 
having at least the accent and manner of a university man. 
Whereas Lydgate was always listened to, bore himself with 
the careless politeness of conscious superiority, and seemed to 
have the right clothes on by a certain natural affinity, without 
ever having to think about them. Eosamond was proud when 
he entered the room, and when he approached her with a dis- 
tinguishing smile, she had a delicious sense that she was the 
object of enviable homage. If Lydgate had been aware of all 
the pride he excited in that delicate bosom, he might have 
been just as well pleased as any other man, even the most 
densely ignorant of humoral pathology or fibrous tissue : he 
held it one of the prettiest attitudes of the feminine mind to 
adore a man's pre-eminence without too precise a knowledge 
of what it consisted in. 

Rut Eosamond was not one of those helpless girls who betray 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 279 

themselves unawares, and whose behavior is awkwardly driven 
by their impulses, instead of being steered by wary grace and 
propriety. Do you imagine that her rapid forecast and rumi- 
nation concerning house-furniture and society were ever dis- 
cernible in her conversation, even with her mamma ? On the 
contrary, she would have expressed the prettiest surprise and 
disapprobation if she had heard that another young lady had 
been detected in that immodest prematureness — indeed, would 
probably have disbelieved in its possibility. For Eosamond 
never showed any unbecoming knowledge, and was always 
that combination of correct sentiments, music, dancing, draw- 
ing, elegant note-writing, private album for extracted verse, 
and perfect blond loveliness, which made the irresistible woman 
for the doomed man of that date. Think no unfair evil of her, 
pray : she had no wicked plots, nothing sordid or mercenary ; 
in fact, slie never thought of money except as something nec- 
essary which other people would always provide. ' She was 
not in the habit of devising falsehoods, and if her statements 
were no direct clew to fact, why, they were not intended in 
that light — they were among her elegant accomplishments, 
intended to please. Nature had inspired many arts in finish- 
ing Mrs. Lemon's favorite pupil, who by general consent (Fred's 
exce])ted) was a rare compound of beaut}', cleverness, and 
amiability. 

Lydgate found it more and more agreeable to be with her, 
and there was no constraint now, there was a delightful inter- 
change of influence in their eyes, and what they said had that 
superfluity of meaning for them, which is observable with 
some sense of flatness by a third person; still they had no 
interviews or asides from which a third person need have been 
excluded. In fact, they flirted ; and Lydgate was secure in 
the belief that they did nothing else. If a man could not love 
and be wise, surely he could flirt and be wise at the same time ? 
Really, the men in Middlemarch, except ^Ir. Farebrother, 
were great bores, and Lydgate did not care about commercial 
politics or cards : what was he to do for relaxation ? He was 
often invited to the Bulstrodes' ; but the girls there were 
hardly out of the schoolroom ; and Mrs. Bulstrode's naive wav 



280 xMlDDLEMARCH. 

of conciliating piety and worldliness, the nothingness of this 
life and the desirability of cut glass, the consciousness at once 
of filthy rags and the best damask, was not a sufficient relief 
from the weight of her husband's invariable seriousness. The 
Vincys' house, with all its faults, was the pleasanter by con- 
trast ; besides, it nourished Kosamond — sweet to look at as a 
half-opened blush-rose, and adorned with accomplishments for 
the refined amusement of man. 

But he made some enemies, other than medical, by his suc- 
cess with Miss Vincy. One evening he came into the drawing- 
room rather late, when several other visitors were there. The 
card-table had drawn off the elders, and Mr. Ned Plymdale 
(one of the good matches in Middlemarch, though not one of 
its leading minds) was in tete-a-tete with Eosamond. He had 
brought the last " Keepsake," the gorgeous watered-silk pub- 
lication which marked modern progress at that time ; and he 
considered himself very fortunate that he could be the first to 
look over it with her, dwelling on the ladies and gentlemen 
with shiny copper-plate cheeks and copper-plate smiles, and 
pointing to comic verses as capital and sentimental stories as 
interesting. Eosamond was gracious, and Mr. Ned was satis- 
fied that he had the very best thing in art and literature as a 
medium for "paying addresses" — the very thing to please a 
nice girl. He had also reasons, deep rather than osteusible, 
for being satisfied with his own appearance. To superficial 
observers his chin had too vanishing an aspect, looking as if it 
were being gradually reabsorbed. And it did indeed cause 
him some difficulty about the fit of his satin stocks, for which 
chins were at that time useful. 

" I think the Honorable Mrs. S. is something like you," said 
Mr. Ned. He kept the book open at the bewitching portrait, 
and looked at it rather languishingly. 

" Her back is very large ; she seems to have sat for that," 
said Eosamond, not meaning any satire, but thinking how red 
young Plymdale's hands were, and wondering why Lydgate 
did not come. She went on with her tatting all the while. 

"I did not say she was as beautiful as you are," said Mr. 
Ned, venturing to look from the portrait to its rival. 



\YArnNG FOR DEATH. 281 

» I suspect you of being an adroit flatterer," said Rosamond, 
feeling sure that she should have to reject this young gentle- 
man a second time. 

But now Lydgate came in ; the book was closed before he 
reached Rosamond's corner, and as he took his seat with easy 
confidence on the other side of her, young Plymdale's jaw fell 
like a barometer towards the cheerless side of change. Rosa- 
mond enjoyed not only Lydgate's presence but its effect : she 
liked to excite jealousy. 

"What a late comer you are.!" she said, as they shook 
hands. "Mamma had given you up a little while ago. How 
do you find Fred ? " 

-As usual; going on well, but slowly. I want him to go 
away - to Stone Court, for example. But your mamma seems 
to have some objection." 

"Poor fellow!" said Rosamond, prettily. "You will see 
Fred so changed," she added, turning to the other suitor ; "' we 
have looked to Mr. Lydgate as our guardian angel during this 

illness." 

Mr. Ned smiled nervously, while Lydgate, drawing the " Keep- 
sake " towards him and opening it, gave a short scornful laugh 
and tossed up his chin, as if in wonderment at human folly. 

"What are you laughing at so profanely ? " said Rosamond, 
with bland neutrality. 

"I wonder which would turn out to be the silliest — the 
engravings or the writing here," said Lydgate, in his most 
convinced tone, while he turned over the pages quickly, seem- 
iug to see all through the book in no time, and showing his 
large white hands to much advantage, as Rosamond thought. 
"Do look at this bridegroom coming out of church: did you 
ever see such a 'sugared invention ' — as the Elizabethans 
used to say? Did any haberdasher ever look so smirking? 
Yet I will answer for it the story makes him one of the first 
gentlemen in the land." 

"You are so severe, I am frightened at you," said Rosa- 
mond, keeping her amusement duly moderate. Poor young 
Plymdale had lingered with admiration over this very engrav- 
ing, and his spirit was stirred. 



282 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" There are a great many celebrated people writing in the 
' Keepsake/ at all events," he said, in a tone at once piqued 
and timid. " This is the first time I have heard it called 
silly." 

'•' I think I shall turn round on you and accuse you of being 
a Goth," said Eosamond, looking at Lydgate with a smile. 
" I suspect you know nothing about Lady Blessington and 
L. E. L." Eosamond herself was not without relish for these 
writers, but she did not readily commit herself by admiration, 
and was alive to the slightest hint that anything was not, 
according to Lydgate, in the very highest taste. 

" But Sir Walter Scott — I suppose Mr. Lydgate knows 
him," said young Plymdale, a little cheered by this advantage. 

" Oh, I read no literature now," said Lydgate, shutting the 
book, and pushing it away. " I read so much when I was a 
lad, that I suppose it will last me all my life. I used to know 
Scott's poems by heart." 

" I should like to know when you left off," said Eosamond, 
"because then I might be sure that I knew something which 
you did not know." 

" Mr. Lydgate would say that was not worth knowing," said 
Mr. Ned, purposely caustic. 

"On the contrary," said Lydgate, showing no smart, but 
smiling with exasperating confidence at Eosamond. " It would 
be worth knowing by the fact that Miss Yinc}^ could tell it 
me." 

Young Plymdale soon went to look at the whist-playing, 
thinking that Lydgate was one of the most conceited, unpleas- 
ant fellows it had ever been his ill- fortune to meet. 

" How rash you are ! " said Eosamond, inwardly delighted. 
"Do you see that you have given offence ?" 

"What ! is it Mr. Plymdale's book ? I am sorry. I did n't 
think about it." 

" I shall begin to admit what you said of yourself when you 
first came here — that you are a bear, and want teaching by 
the birds." 

" Well, there is a bird who can teach me what she will. 
Don't I listen to her willingly ? " 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 283 

To Rosamond it seemed as if she and Lydgate were as good 
as engaged. That they were some time to be engaged had 
long been an idea in her mind ; and ideas, we know, tend to 
a more solid kind of existence, the necessary materials being 
at hand. It is true, Lydgate had the counter-idea of remain- 
ing unengaged ; but this was a mere negative, a shadow cast 
by other resolves which themselves were capable of shrinking. 
Circumstance was almost sure to be on the side of Rosamond's 
idea, which had a shaping activity and looked through watch- 
ful blue eyes, whereas Lydgate's lay blind and unconcerned as 
a jelly-fish which gets melted without knowing it. 

That evening when he went home, he looked at his phials 
to see how a process of maceration was going on, with undis- 
turbed interest ; and he wrote out his daily notes with as 
much precision as usual. The reveries from which it was 
difficult for him to detach himself were ideal constructions of 
something else than Rosamond's virtues, and the primitive 
tissue was still his fair unknown. jNforeover, he was begin- 
ning to feel some zest for the growing though half-suppressed 
feud between him and the other medical men, which was 
likely to become more manifest, now that Bulstrode's method 
of managing the new hospital was about to be declared ; and 
there were various inspiriting signs that his non-acceptance by 
some of Peacock's patients might be counterbalanced by the 
impression he had produced in other quarters. Only a few 
days later, when he had happened to ov^ertake Rosamond on 
the Lowick road and had got down from his horse to walk by 
her side until he had quite protected her from a passing drove, 
he had been stopped by a servant on horseback with a mes- 
sage calling him in to a house of some importance where Pea- 
cock had never attended; and it was the second instance of 
this kind. The servant was Sir James Chettam's, and the 
house was Lowick Manor. 



284 MIDDLEMARCH. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

" 1st Gent. All times are good to seek your wedded home 
Bringing a mutual delight. 
2d Gent. Why, true. 

The calendar hath not an evil day 
For souls made one by love, and even death 
Were sweetness, if it came like rolling waves 
While they two clasped each other, and foresaw 
No life apart." 

Mr. and Mrs, Casaubon, returning from their wedding jour- 
ney, arrived at Lowicli Manor in the middle of January, A 
light snow was falling as they descended at the door, and in 
the morning, when Dorothea j)assed from her dressing-room 
into the blue-green boudoir that we know of, she saw the long 
avenue of limes lifting their trunks from a white earth, and 
spreading white branches against the dun and motionless sky. 
The distant flat shrank in uniform whiteness and low-hanging 
uniformity of cloud. The very furniture in the room seemed 
to have shrunk since she saw it before : the stag in the tap- 
estry looked more like a ghost in his ghostly blue-green world ; 
the volumes of polite literature in the bookcase looked more 
like immovable imitations of books. The bright fire of dry 
oak-boughs burning on the dogs seemed an incongruous re- 
newal of life and glow — like the figure of Dorothea herself 
as she entered carrying the red-leather cases containing the 
cameos for Celia. 

She was glowing from her morning toilet as only healthful 
youth can glow : there was gem-like brightness on her coiled 
hair and in her hazel eyes; there was warm red life in her 
lips ; her throat had a breathing whiteness above the differing 
white of the fur which itself seemed to wind about her neck 
and cling down her blue-gray pelisse with a tenderness gath- 
ered from her own, a sentient commingled innocence which 
kept its loveliness against the crystalline purity of the outdoor 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 285 

snow. As she laid the cameo-cases on the table in the bow- 
window, she unconsciously kept her hands on them, immedi- 
ately absorbed in looking out on the still, white enclosure 
which made her visible world. 

Mr. Casaubon, who had risen early complaining of pal- 
pitation, was in the library giving audience to his curate 
Mr. Tucker. By-and-by Celia would come in her quality of 
bridesmaid as well as sister, and through the next weeks there 
would be wedding visits received and given ; all in continuance 
of that transitional life understood to correspond with the ex- 
citement of bridal felicit}^ and keeping up the sense of busy 
ineffectiveness, as of a dream wdiicli the dreamer begins to sus- 
pect. The duties of her married life, contemplated as so great 
beforehand, seemed to be shrinking with the furniture and the 
white vapor-walled landscape. The clear heights where she 
expected to walk in full communion had become difficult to see 
even in her imagination ; the delicious repose of the soul on 
a complete superior had been shaken into uneasy effort and 
alarmed with dim presentiment. When would the days begin 
of that active wifely devotion which was to strengthen her hus- 
band's life and exalt her own ? Xever perhaps, as she had 
preconceived them ; but somehow — still somehow. In this 
solemnly pledged union of her life, duty would present itself 
in some new form of inspiration and give a new meaning to 
wifely love. 

Meanwhile there was the snow and the low arch of dun 
vapor — there was the stifling oppression of that gentle- 
woman's world, where everything was done for her and none 
asked for her aid — where the sense of connection with a mani- 
fold pregnant existence had to be kept up painfully as an in- 
ward vision, instead of coming from without in claims that 
would have shaped her energies. — ^' What shall I do ? " 
" Whatever you please, my dear : " that had been her brief 
history since she had left off learning morning lessons and 
practising silly rhythms on the hated piano. Marriage, which 
was to bring guidance into worthy and imperative occupation, 
had not yet freed her from the gentlewoman's oppressive lib- 
erty : it had not even filled her leisure with the ruminant joy 



286 MIDDLEMARCH. 

of unchecked tenderness. Her blooming full-pulsed youth 
stood there in a moral imprisonment which made itself one 
with the chill, colorless, narrowed landscape, with the shrunk- 
en furniture, the never-read books, and the ghostly stag in a 
pale fantastic world that seemed to be vanishing from the 
daylight. 

In the first minutes when Dorothea looked out she felt 
nothing but the dreary oppression ; then came a keen remem- 
brance, and turning away from the window she walked round 
the room. The ideas and hopes which were living in her mind 
when she first saw this room nearly three months before were 
present now only as memories : she judged them as we judge 
transient and departed things. All existence seemed to beat 
with a lower pulse than her own, and her religious faith was a 
solitary cry, the struggle out of a nightmare in which every 
object was withering and shrinking away from her. Each re- 
membered thing in the room was disenchanted, was deadened 
as an unlit transparency, till her wandering gaze came to the 
group of miniatures, and there at last she saw something 
which had gathered new breath and meaning : it was the mini- 
ature of Mr. Casaubon's aunt Julia, who had made the unfor- 
tunate marriage — of Will Ladislaw's grandmother. Dorothea 
could fancy that it was alive now — the delicate woman's face 
which yet had a headstrong look, a peculiarity difficult to in- 
terpret. Was it only her friends who thought her marriage 
unfortunate ? or did she herself find it out to be a mistake, and 
taste the salt bitterness of her tears in the merciful silence of 
the night ? AVhat breadths of experience Dorothea seemed to 
have passed over since she first looked at this miniature ! She 
felt a new companionship with it, as if it had an ear for her 
and could see how she was looking at it. Here was a woman 
who had known some difficulty about marriage. Nay, the 
colors deepened, the lips and chin seemed to get larger, the hair 
and eyes seemed to be sending out light, the face was mascu- 
line and beamed on her with that full gaze which tells her on 
whom it falls that she is too interesting for the slightest move- 
ment of her eyelid to pass unnoticed and uninterpreted. The 
vivid presentation came like a pleasant glow to Dorothea : she 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 287 

felt herself smiling, and turning from the miniature sat down 
and looked up as if she were again talking to a figure in front 
of her. But the smile disappeared as she went on meditating, 
and at last she said aloud — 

" Oh, it was cruel to speak so ! How sad — how dreadful ! " 

She rose quickly and went out of the room, hurrying along 
the corridor, with the irresistible impulse to go and see her 
husband and inquire if she could do anything for him. Per- 
haps Mr. Tucker was gone and Mr. Casaubon was alone in the 
library. She felt as if all her morning's gloom would vanish 
if she could see her husband glad because of her presence. 

But when she reached the head of tlie dark oak staircase, 
there was Celia coming up, and below there was Mr. Brooke, 
exchanging welcomes and congratulations with ]\Ir. Casaubon. 

" Dodo !" said Celia, in her quiet staccato; then kissed her 
sister, whose arms encircled her, and said no more. I think 
they both cried a little in a furtive manner, while Dorothea 
ran down-stairs to greet her uncle. 

" I need not ask how you are, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, 
after kissing her forehead. " Borne has agreed with you, 
I see — happiness, frescos, the antique — that sort of thing. 
Well, it 's very pleasant to have you back again, and you 
understand all about art now, eh ? But Casaubon is a little 
pale, I tell him — a little pale, you know. Studying hard 
in his holidays is carrying it rather too far. I overdid it at 
one time '' — Mr. Brooke still held Dorothea's hand, but had 
turned his face to Mr. Casaubon — "about topography, ruins, 
temples — I thought I had a clew, but I saw it would carry me 
too far, and nothing might come of it. You may go any length 
in that sort of thing, and nothing may come of it, you know." 

Dorothea's eyes also were turned up to her husband's face 
with some anxiety at the idea that those who saw him afresh 
after absence might be aware of signs which she had not 
noticed. 

" Nothing to alarm 3-0U, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, observ- 
ing her expression. " A little English beef and mutton will 
soon make a difference. It was all very well to look pale, sit- 
ting for the portrait of Aquinas, you know — we got your letter 



288 MIDDLEMARCH. 

just in time. But Aquinas, now — he was a little too subtle, 
was n't he ? Does anybody read Aquinas ? " 

" He is not indeed an author adapted to superficial minds," 
said Mr. Casaubon, meeting these timely questions with digni- 
fied patience. 

" You would like coffee in your own room, uncle ? " said 
Dorothea, coming to the rescue. 

'' Yes ; and you must go to Celia : she has great news to 
tell you, 3^ou know. I leave it all to her." 

The blue-green boudoir looked much more cheerful when 
Celia was seated there in a pelisse exactly like her sister's, 
surveying the cameos with a placid satisfaction, while the 
conversation passed on to other topics. 

" Do you think it nice to go to Eome on a wedding jour- 
ney ? " said Celia, with her ready delicate blush which Doro- 
thea was used to on the smallest occasions. 

" It would not suit all — not you, dear, for example," said 
Dorothea, quietly. No one would ever know what she thought 
of a wedding journey to Eome. 

" Mrs. Cadwallader says it is nonsense, people going a long 
journey when they are married. She says they get tired to 
death of each other, and can't quarrel comfortably, as they 
would at home. And Lady Chettam says she went to Bath." 
Celia's color changed again and again — seemed 

" To come and go with tMings from the heart, 
As it a running messenger had been." 

It must mean more than Celia's blushing usually did. 

"Celia! has something happened?" said Dorothea, in a 
tone full of sisterly feeling. " Have you really any great 
news to tell me ? " 

" It was because you went away, Dodo. Then there was 
nobody but me for Sir James to talk to," said Celia, with a 
certain roguishness in her eyes. 

" I understand. It is as I used to hope and believe," said 
Dorothea, taking her sister's face between her hands, and 
looking at her half anxiously. Celia's marriage seemed more 
serious than it used to do. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 289 

"It was only three days ago," said Celia. "And Lady 
Chettam is very kind." 

" And you are very happy ? " 

" Yes. We are not going to be married yet. Because every- 
thing is to be got ready. And I don't want to be married so 
ver}^ soon, because I think it is nice to be engaged. And we 
shall be married all our lives after." 

" I do believe you could not marry better, Kitty. Sir James 
is a good, honorable man," said Dorothea, warmly. 

"He has gone on with the cottages, Dodo. He will tell 
you about them when he comes. Shall you be glad to see 
him?" 

" Of course I shall. How can you ask me ? " 

" Only I was afraid you would be getting so learned," said 
Celia, regarding Mr. Casaubon's learning as a kind of damp 
which might in due time saturate a neighboring body. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

I found that no genius in another conld please me. My unfortunate para- 
doxes had entirely dried up that source of comfort. — GoldSxMITh. 

One morning, some weeks after her arrival at Lowick, 
Dorothea — but why always Dorothea ? Was her point of 
view the only possible one with regard to this marriage ? I 
protest against all our interest, all our effort at understanding 
being given to the young skins that look blooming in spite of 
trouble ; for these too will get faded, and will know the older 
and more eating griefs which we are helping to neglect. In 
spite of the blinking eyes and white moles objectionable to 
Celia, and the want of muscular curve which was morally 
painful to Sir James, Mr. Casaubon had an intense conscious- 
ness within him, and was spiritually a-hungered like the rest 
of us. He had done nothing exceptional in marrying — noth- 

VOL VIT. 19 



290 MIDDLEMARCH. 

ing but what society sanctions, and considers an occasion for 
wreaths and bouquets. It had occurred to him that he must 
not any longer defer his intention of matrimony, and he had 
reflected that in taking a wife, a man of good position should 
expect and carefully choose a blooming young lady — the 
younger the better, because more educable and submissive — 
of a rank equal to his own, of religious principles, virtuous 
disposition, and good understanding. On such a young lady 
he would make handsome settlements, and he would neglect 
no arrangement for her happiness : in return, he should receive 
family pleasures and leave behind him that copy of himself 
which seemed so urgently required of a man — to the son- 
neteers of the sixteenth century. Times had altered since 
then, and no sonneteer had insisted on Mr. Casaubon's leaving 
a copy of himself ; moreover, he had not yet succeeded in 
issuing copies of his mythological key ; but he had always 
intended to acquit himself by marriage, and the sense that he 
was fast leaving the years behind him, that the world was 
getting dimmer and that he felt lonely, was a reason to him 
for losing no more time in overtaking domestic delights before 
they too were left behind by the years. 

And when he had seen Dorothea he believed that he had 
found even more than he demanded : she might really be such 
a helpmate to him as would enable him to dispense with a 
hired secretary, an aid which Mr. Casaubon had never yet 
employed and had a suspicious dread of. (Mr. Casaubon was 
nervously conscious that he w^as expected to manifest a power- 
ful mind.) Providence, in its kindness, had supplied him 
with the wife he needed. A wife, a modest young lady, with 
the purely appreciative, unambitious abilities of her sex, is 
sure to think her husband's mind powerful. Whether Provi- 
dence had taken equal care of Miss Brooke in presenting her 
with Mr. Casaubon was an idea which could hardly occur to 
him. Society never made the preposterous demand that a 
man should think as much about his own qualifications for 
making a charming girl happy as he thinks of hers for making 
himself happy. As if a man could choose not only his wife 
but his wife's husband ! Or as if he were bound to provide 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 291 

charms for his posterity in his own person ! — When Dorothea 
accepted him with effusion, that was only natural ; and Mr. 
Casaubon believed that his happiness was going to begin. 

He had not had much foretaste of happiness in his previous 
life. To know intense joy without a strong bodily frame, (me 
must have an enthusiastic soul. Mr. Casaubon had never had 
a strong bodily frame, and his soul was sensitive without 
being enthusiastic : it was too languid to thrill out of self- 
consciousness into passionate delight ; it went on fluttering 
in the swampy ground where it was hatched, thinking of its 
wings and never flying. His experience was of that pitiable 
kind which shrinks from pity, and fears most of all that it 
should be known : it was that proud narrow sensitiveness 
which has not mass enough to spare for transformation into 
sympathy, and quivers thread-like in small currents of self- 
preoccupation or at best of an egoistic scrupulosity. And Mr. 
Casaubon had many scruples : he was capable of a severe self- 
restraint ; he was resolute in being a man of honor according to 
the code ; he would be unimpeachable by any recognized opin- 
ion. In conduct these ends had been attained ; but the diffi- 
culty of making his Key to all Mythologies unimpeachable 
weighed like lead upon his mind; and the pamphlets — or 
" Parerga " as he called them — by which he tested his public 
and deposited small monumental records of his march, were far 
from having been seen in all their significance. He suspected 
the Archdeacon of not having read them ; he was in painful 
doubt as to what was really thought of them by the leading 
minds of Brasenose, and bitterly convinced that his old ac- 
quaintance Carp had been the writer of that depreciatory 
recension which was kept locked in a small drawer of Mr. 
Casaubon's desk, and also in a dark closet of his verbal mem- 
ory. These were heavy impressions to struggle against, and 
brought that melancholy embitterment wdiich is the conse- 
quence of all excessive claim : even his religious faith wavered 
with his wavering trust in his own authorship, and the conso- 
lations of the Christian hope in immortality seemed to lean on 
the immortality of the still unwritten Key to all Mythologies. 
For my part I am very sorry for him. It is an uneasy lot at 



292 MIDDLEMARCH. 

best, to be what we call highly taught and yet not to enjoy : 
to be present at this great spectacle of life and never to be 
liberated from a small hungry shivering self — never to be 
fully possessed by the glory we behold^ never to have our 
consciousness rapturously transformed into the vividness of a 
thought, the ardor of a passion, the energy of an action, but 
always to be scholarly and uninspired, ambitious and timid, 
scrupulous and dim-sighted. Becoming a dean or even a bishop 
would make little difference, I fear, to Mr. Casaubon's uneasi- 
ness. Doubtless some ancient Greek has observed that behind 
the big mask and the speaking-trumpet, there must always be 
our poor little eyes peeping as usual and our timorous lips 
more or less under anxious control. 

To this mental estate mapped out a quarter of a century 
before, to sensibilities thus fenced in, Mr. Casaubon had 
thought of annexing happiness with a lovely young bride ; 
but even before marriage, as we have seen, he found himself 
under a new depression in the consciousness that the new 
bliss was not blissful to him. Inclination yearned back to 
its old, easier custom. And the deeper he went in domes- 
ticity the more did the sense of acquitting himself and acting 
with propriety predominate over any other satisfaction. Mar- 
riage, like religion and erudition, nay, like authorship itself, 
was fated to become an outward requirement, and Edward 
Casaubon was bent on fulfilling unimpeachably all require- 
ments. Even drawing Dorothea into use in his study, accord- 
ing to his own intention before marriage, was an effort which 
he was always tempted to defer, and but for her pleading 
insistance it might never have begun. But she had succeeded 
in making it a matter of course that she should take her place 
at an early hour in the library and have work either of read- 
ing aloud or copying assigned her. The work had been easier 
to define because Mr. Casaubon had adopted an immediate 
intention : there was to be a newParergon, a small monograph 
on some lately traced indications concerning the Egyptian 
mysteries whereby certain assertions of Warburton's could be 
corrected. Eeferences were extensive even here, but not alto- 
gether shoreless ; and sentences were actually to be written in 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 293 

the shape wherein they would be scanned by Brasenose and a 
less formidable posterity. These minor monumental produc- 
tions were ahvays exciting to Mr. Casaubon ; digestion was 
made difficult by the interference of citations, or by the 
rivalry of dialectical phrases ringing against each other in his 
brain. And from the first there w^as to be a Latin dedication 
about which everything was uncertain except that it was not 
to be addressed to Carp : it was a poisonous regret to Mr. 
Casaubon that he had once addressed a dedication to Carp in 
which he had numbered that member of the animal kingdom 
among the vivos nullo cevo perituros, a mistake which would 
infallibly lay the dedicator open to ridicule in the next age, 
and might even be chuckled over by Pike and Tench in the 
present. 

Thus Mr. Casaubon was in one of his busiest epochs, and as 
I began to say a little while ago, Dorothea joined him early 
in the library where he had breakfasted alone. Celia at this 
time was on a second visit to Lowick, probably the last before 
her marriage, and was in the drawing-room expecting Sir 
James. 

Dorothea had learned to read the signs of her husband's 
mood, and she saw that the morning had become more foggy 
there during the last hour. She was going silently to her 
desk when he said, in that distant tone which implied that he 
was discharging a disagreeable duty — 

"Dorothea, here is a letter for you, which was enclosed in 
one addressed to me." 

It was a letter of two pages, and she immediately looked at 
the signature. 

"Mr. Ladislaw ! What can he have to say to me?" she 
exclaimed, in a tone of pleased surprise. " But," she added, 
looking at Mr. Casaubon, " I can imagine what he has w^ritten 
to you about." 

"You can, if you please, read the letter," said IMr. Casaubon, 
severely pointing to it with his pen, and not looking at her. 
" But I may as well say beforehand, that I must decline the 
proposal it contains to pay a visit here. I trust I may be 
excused for desiring an interval of complete freedom from 



294 MIDDLEMARCH. 

such distractions as have been hitherto inevitable, and espe- 
cially from guests whose desultory vivacity makes their pres- 
ence a fatigue." 

There had been no clashing of temper between Dorothea 
and her husband since that little explosion in Eome, which 
had left such strong traces in her mind that it had been easier 
ever since to quell emotion than to incur the consequence of 
venting it. But this ill-tempered anticipation that she could 
desire visits which might be disagreeable to her husband, tliis 
gratuitous defence of himself against selfish complaint on her 
part, was too sharp a sting to be meditated on until after it 
had been resented. Dorothea had thought that she could have 
been patient with John Milton, but she had never imagined 
him behaving in this way; and for a moment Mr. Casaubon 
seemed to be stupidly undiscerning and odiously unjust. 
Pity, that " new-born babe " which was by-and-by to rule 
many a storm within her, did not " stride the blast " on this 
occasion. With her first words, uttered in a tone that shook 
him, she startled Mr. Casaubon into looking at her, and meeting 
the flash of her eyes. 

"Why do you attribute to me a wish for anything that 
would annoy you ? You speak to me as if I were something 
you had to contend against. Wait at least till I appear to 
consult my own pleasure apart from yours." 

"Dorothea, you are hasty," answered Mr. Casaubon, ner- 
vously. 

Decidedly, this woman was too young to be on the formid- 
able level of wifehood — unless she had been pale and feature- 
less and taken everything for granted. 

"1 think it was you who were first hasty in your false 
suppositions about my feeling," said Dorothea, in the same 
tone. The fire was not dissipated yet, and she thought it was 
ignoble in her husband not to apologize to her. 

" We will, if you please, say no more on this subject, Doro- 
thea. I have neither leisure nor energy for this kind of 
debate." 

Here Mr. Casaubon dipped his pen and made as if he would 
return to his writing, though his hand trembled so much that 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 295 

the words seemed to be written in an unknown character. 
There are answers which, in turning away wrath, only send it 
to the other end of the room, and to have a discussion coolly 
waived when you feel that justice is all on your own side is 
even more exasperating in marriage than in philosophy. 

Dorothea left Ladislaw's two letters unread on her hus- 
band's writing-table and went to her own place, the scorn and 
indignation within her rejecting the reading of these letters, 
just as we hurl away any trash towards which we seem to 
have been suspected of mean cupidity. She did not in the 
least divine the subtle sources of her husband's bad temper 
about these letters : she only knew that they had caused him 
to offend her. She began to work at once, and her hand did 
not tremble ; on the contrary, in writing out the quotations 
which had been given to her the day before, she felt that she 
was forming her letters* beautifully, and it seemed to her that 
she saw the construction of the Latin she was copying, and 
which she was beginning to understand, more clearly than 
usual. In her indignation there was a sense of superiority, 
but it went out for the present in firmness of stroke, and did 
not compress itself into an inward articulate voice pronoun- 
cing the once "affable archangel" a poor creature. 

There had been this apparent quiet for half an hour, and 
Dorothea had not looked aAvay from her own table, when she 
heard the loud bang of a book on the floor, and turning quickly 
saw Mr. Casaubon on the library steps clinging forward as if 
he were in some bodily distress. She started up and bounded 
towards him in an instant : he was evidently in great straits 
for breath. Jumping on a stool she got close to his elbow and 
said with her whole soul melted into tender alarm — 

" Can you lean on me, dear ? " 

He was still for two or three minutes, which seemed end- 
less to her, unable to speak or move, gasping for breath. 
When at last he descended the three steps and fell backward 
in the large chair which Dorothea had drawn close to the foot 
of the ladder, he no longer gasped but seemed helpless and 
about to faint. Dorothea rang the bell violentl}^, and pres- 
ently Mr. Casaubon was helped to the couch : he did not faint, 



296 MIDDLEMARCH. 

and was gradually reviving, when Sir James Chettam came in, 
having been met in the hall with the news that Mr. Casaubon 
had " had a fit in the librar}^" 

"Good God! this is just what might have been expected," 
was his immediate thought. If his prophetic soul had been 
urged to particularize, it seemed to him that " fits " would 
have been the definite expression alighted upon. He asked 
his informant, the butler, whether the doctor had been sent 
for. The butler never knew his master want the doctor be- 
fore ; but would it not be right to send for a physician ? 

When Sir James entered the library, however, Mr. Casaubon 
could make some signs of his usual politeness, and Dorothea, 
who in the reaction from her first terror had been kneeling 
and sobbing by his side now rose and herself proposed that 
some one should ride off for a medical man. 

"I recommend you to send for Lydgate," said Sir James. 
"My mother has called him in, and she has found him un- 
commonly clever. She has had a poor opinion of the physicians 
since my father's death." 

Dorothea appealed to her husband, and he made a silent sign 
of approval. So Mr. Lydgate was sent for and he came won- 
derfully soon, for the messenger, who w^as Sir James Chettam's 
man and knew Mr. Lydgate, met him leading his horse along 
the Lowick road and giving his arm to ]\Iiss Vincy. 

Celia, in the drawing-room, had known nothing of the 
trouble till Sir James told her of it. After Dorothea's ac- 
count, he no longer considered the illness a fit, but still 
something "of that nature." 

"Poor dear Dodo — how dreadful!" said Celia, feeling as 
much grieved as her own perfect happiness would allow. Her 
little hands w^ere clasped, and enclosed by Sir James's as a 
bud is enfolded by a liberal calyx. " It is very shocking that 
Mr. Casaubon should be ill ; but I never did like him. And 
I think he is not half fond enough of Dorothea ; and he ought 
to be, for I am sure no one else would have had him — do you 
think they would ? " 

" I always thought it a horrible sacrifice of your sister," 
said Sir James. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 297 

" Yes. But poor Dodo never did do what other people do, 
and I think she never will." 

" She is a noble creature," said the loyal-hearted Sir James. 
He had just had a fresh impression of this kind, as he had 
seen Dorothea stretching her tender arm under her husband's 
neck and looking at him witli unspeakable sorrow. He did 
not know how much penitence there was in the sorrow. 

"Yes," said Celia, thinking it was very well for Sir James 
to say so, but he would not have been comfortable with Dodo. 
" Shall I go to her ? Could I help her, do you think ? " 

" I think it would be well for you just to go and see her 
before Lydgate comes," said Sir James, magnanimously. 
"Only don't stay long." 

While Celia was gone he walked up and down remembering 
what he had originally felt about Dorothea's engagement, and 
feeling a revival of his disgust at Mr. Brooke's indifference. If 
Cadwallader — if every one else had regarded the affair as he, 
Sir James, had done, the marriage might have been hindered. 
It was wicked to let a young girl blindly decide her fate in 
that way, without any effort to save her. Sir James had long 
ceased to have any regrets on his own account : his heart was 
satisfied with his engagement to Celia. But he had a chival- 
rous nature (was not the disinterested service of woman 
among the ideal glories of old chivalry?): his disregarded 
love had not turned to bitterness ; its death had made sweet 
odors — floating memories that clung with a consecrating ef- 
fect to Dorothea. He could remain her brotherly friend, 
interpreting her actions with generous trustfulness. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

Qui veut delasser hors de propos, lasse. — Pascal. 

Mr. Casaubox had no second attack of equal severity with 
the first, and in a few days began to recover his usual condi- 
tion. But Lvdgate seemed to think the case worth a great 



298 MIDDLEMARCH. 

deal of attention. He not only used his stethoscope (which 
had not become a matter of course in practice at that time), 
but sat quietly by hs patient and watched him. To Mr. 
Casaubon's questions about himself, he replied that the source 
of the illness was the common error of intellectual men — a 
too eager and monotonous application: the remedy was, to be 
satisfied with moderate work, and to seek variety of relaxa- 
tion. Mr. Brooke, who sat by on one occasion, suggested 
that Mr. Casaubon should go fishing, as Cadwallader did, and 
have a turning-room, make toys, table-legs, and that kind of 
thing. 

"In short, you recommend me to antidpate the arrival of 
my second childhood," said poor Mr. Casaubon, with some 
bitterness. " These things," he added, looking at Lydgate, 
" would be to me such relaxation as tow-picking is to prisoners 
in a house of correction." 

" I confess," said Lydgate, smiling, " amusement is rather 
an unsatisfactory prescription. It is something like telling 
people to keep up their spirits. Perhaps I had better say, 
that you must submit to be mildly bored rather than to go on 
working." 

" Yes, yes," said Mr. Brooke. " Get Dorothea to play back- 
gammon with you in the evenings. And shuttlecock, now — 
I don't know a finer game than shuttlecock for the daytime. 
I remember it all the fashion. To be sure, your eyes might 
not stand that, Casaubon. But you must unbend, you know. 
Why, you might take to some light study: conchology, now: 
I always think that must be a light study. Or get Dorothea 
to read you light things, Smollett — ' Boderick Bandora,' 
' Humphrey Clinker : ' they are a little broad, but she may 
read anything now she 's married, you know. I remember 
they made me laugh uncommonly — there's a droll bit about 
a postilion's breeches. We have no such humor noAV. I have 
gone through all these things, but they might be rather new 
to you." 

" As new as eating thistles," would have been an answer to 
represent Mr. Casaubon's feelings. But he only bowed re- 
signedly, with due respect to his wife's uncle, and observed 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 299 

that doubtless the works he mentioned had •' served as a 
resource to a certain order of minds."* 

" You see," said the able magistrate to Lydgate, when they 
were outside the door, " Casaubon has been a little narrow : it 
leaves him rather at a loss when you forbid him his particular 
work, which I believe is something very deep indeed — in the 
line of research, you know. I would never give way to that ; 
I was always versatile. But a clergyman is tied a little tight. 
If they would make him a bishop, now ! — he did a very good 
pamphlet for Peel. He would have more movement then, 
more show ; he might get a little flesh. But I recommend 
you to talk to j\Irs. Casaubon. She is clever enough for any- 
thing, is my niece. Tell her, her husband wants liveliness, 
diversion : put her on amusing tactics." 

Without ^Ir. Brooke's advice, Lydgate had determined on 
speaking to Dorothea. She had not been present while her 
uncle was throwing out his pleasant suggestions as to the 
mode in which life at Lowick might be enlivened, but she was 
usually by her husband's side, and the unaffected signs of 
intense anxiety in her face and voice about whatever touched 
his mind or health, made a drama which Lydgate was inclined 
to watch. He said to himself that he was only doing right 
in telling her the truth about her husband's probable future, 
but he certainly thought also that it would be interesting to 
talk confidentially with her. A medical man likes to make 
psychological observations, and sometimes in the pursuit of 
such studies is too easily tempted into momentous prophecy 
which life and death easily set at nought. Lydgate had often 
been satirical on this gratuitous prediction, and he meant now 
to be guarded. 

He asked for Mrs. Casaubon, but being told that she was 
out walking, he was going away, when Dorothea and Celia 
appeared, both glowing from their struggle with the March 
wind. When Lydgate begged to speak with her alone, Doro- 
thea opened the library door which happened to be the nearest, 
thinking of nothing at the moment but what he might have 
to say about Mr. Casaubon. It was the first time she had 
entered this room since her husband had been taken ill, and 



300 MIDDLEMARCH. 

the servant had chosen not to open the shutters. But there 
was light enough to read by from the narrow upper panes of 
the windows. 

"You will not mind this sombre light," said Dorothea, 
standing in the middle of the room. " Since you forbade 
books, the library has been out of the question. But Mr. 
Casaubon will soon be here again, I hope. Is he not making 
progress ? " 

" Yes, much more rapid progress than I at first expected. 
Indeed, he is already nearly in his usual state of health." 

" You do not fear that the illness will return ? " said 
Dorothea, whose quick ear had detected some significance in 
Lydgate's tone. 

" Such cases are peculiarly difficult to pronounce upon," 
said Lydgate. "The only point on which I can be confident is 
that it will be desirable to be very watchful on Mr. Casaubon's 
account, lest he should in any way strain his nervous power." 

" I beseech you to speak quite plainly," said Dorothea, in 
an imploring tone. " I cannot bear to think that there might 
be something which I did not know, and which, if I had 
known it, would have made me act differently." The words 
came out like a cry : it was evident that they were the voice 
of some mental experience which lay not very far off. 

"Sit down," she added, placing herself on the nearest chair, 
and throwing off her bonnet and gloves, with an instinctive 
discarding of formality where a great question of destiny was 
concerned. 

" What you say now justifies my own view%" said Lydgate. 
"I think it is one's function as a medical man to hinder 
regrets of that sort as far as possible. But I beg you to 
observe that Mr. Casaubon's case is precisely of the kind in 
which the issue is most difficult to pronounce upon. He may 
possibly live for fifteen years or more, without much worse 
health than he has had hitherto." 

Dorothea had turned very pale, and when Lydgate paused 
she said in a low voice, "You mean if we are very careful." 

"Yes — careful against mental agitation of all kinds, and 
against excessive application." 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 301 

"He would be miserable, if he had to give up his work," 
said Dorothea, with a quick prevision of that wretchedness. 

"I am aware of that. The only course is to try by all 
means, direct and indirect, to moderate and vary his occupa- 
tions. With a happy concurrence of circumstances, there is, 
as I said, no immediate danger from that affection of the 
lieart, wdiich I believe to have been the cause of his late 
attack. On the other hand, it is possible that the disease may 
develop itself more rapidly : it is one of those cases in which 
death is sometimes sudden. Nothing sliould be neglected 
w^liich might be affected by such an issue." 

There was silence for a few moments, while Dorothea sat as 
if she had been turned to marble, though the life within her 
was so intense that her mind had never before swept in brief 
time over an equal range of scenes and motives. 

" Help me, pray," she said, at last, in the same low voice as 
before. " Tell me what I can do." 

" What do you think of foreign travel ? You have been 
lately in Rome, I think." 

The memories which made this resource utterly hopeless 
were a new current that shook Dorothea out of her pallid 
immobilit}-. 

"Oh, that would not do — that would be worse than any- 
thing," she said with a more childlike despondency, while the 
tears rolled down. " Nothing will be of any use that he does 
not enjoy." 

" I wish that I could have spared you this pain," said Lydgate, 
deeply touched, yet wondering about her marriage. Women 
just like Dorothea had not entered into his traditions. 

"It was right of you to tell me. I thank you for telling 
me the truth." 

"T wish you to understand that I shall not say anything to 
enlighten Mr. Casaubon himself. I think it desirable for him 
to know nothing more than that he must not overwork him- 
self, and must observe certain rules. Anxiety of any kind 
would be precisely the most unfavorable condition for him." 

Lydgate rose, and Dorothea mechanically rose at the same 
time, unclasping her cloak and throwing it off as if it stifled 



302 MIDDLEMARCH. 

her. He was bowing and quitting her, when an impulse which 
if she had been alone would have turned into a prayer, made 
her say with a sob in her voice — 

'^ Oh, you are a wise man, are you not ? You know all 
about life and death. Advise me. Think what I can do. He 
has been laboring all his life and looking forward. He minds 
about nothing else. And I mind about nothing else — " 

For years after Lydgate remembered the impression pro- 
duced in him by this involuntary appeal — this cry from soul 
to soul, without other consciousness than their moving with 
kindred natures in the same embroiled medium, the same 
troublous fitfully illuminated life. But what could he say now 
except that he should see Mr. Casaubon again to-morrow ? 

When he was gone, Dorothea's tears gushed forth, and 
relieved her stifling oppression. Then she dried her eyes, 
reminded that her distress must not be betrayed to her hus- 
band; and looked round the room thinking that she must 
order the servant to attend to it as usual, since Mr. Casaubon 
might now at any moment wish to enter. On his writing- 
table there were letters which had lain untouched since the 
morning when he was taken ill, and among them, as Dorothea 
well remembered, there were young Ladislaw's letters, the one 
addressed to her still unopened. The associations of these 
letters had been made the more painful by that sudden attack 
of illness which she felt that the agitation caased by her 
anger might have helped to bring on: it would be time enough 
to read them when they were again thrust upon her, and she 
had had no inclination to fetch them from the library. But 
now it occurred to her that they should be put out of her 
husband's sight : whatever might have been the sources of his 
annoyance about them, he must, if possible, not be annoyed 
again ; and she ran her eyes first over the letter addressed to 
him to assure herself whether or not it would be necessary to 
write in order to hinder the offensive visit. 

Will wrote from Rome, and began by saying that his obliga- 
tions to Mr. Casaubon were too deep for all thanks not to 
seem impertinent. It was plain that if he were not grateful, 
he must be the poorest-spirited rascal who had ever found a 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 303 

generous friend. To expand in wordy thanks would be like 
saying, " I am honest." But AVill had come to perceive that 
his defects — defects which Mr. Casaubon had himself often 
pointed to — needed for their correction that more strenuous 
position which his relative's generosity had hitherto prevented 
from being inevitable. He trusted that he should make the 
best return, if return were possible, by showing the effective- 
ness of the education for which he was indebted, and by ceas- 
ing in future to need any diversion towards himself of funds 
on which others might have a better claim. He was coming 
to England, to try his fortune, as many other young men were 
obliged to do whose only capital was in their brains. His friend 
Naumann had desired him to take charge of the " Dispute " — 
the picture painted for ;Mr. Casaubon, with whose permission, 
and ;Mrs. Casaubon's, Will would convey it to Lowick in per- 
son. A letter addressed to the Poste Restante in Paris within 
the fortnight would hinder him, if necessary, from arriving 
at an inconvenient moment. He enclosed a letter to Mrs. 
Casaubon in which he continued a discussion about art, begun 
with her in Rome. 

Opening her own letter Dorothea saw that it was a lively 
continuation of his remonstrance with her fanatical sympathy 
and her want of sturdy neutral delight in things as they were 
— an outpouring of his young vivacity which it was impossible 
to read just now. She had immediately to consider what was to 
be done about the other letter : there was still time perhaps 
to prevent Will from coming to Lowick. Dorothea ended by 
giving the letter to her uncle, who was still in the house, and beg- 
ging him to let Will know that Mr. Casaubon had been ill, and 
that his health would not allow the reception of any visitors. 

Ko one more ready than Mr. Brooke to write a letter ; his 
only difficulty was to write a short one, and his ideas in this 
case expanded over the three large pages and the inward fold- 
ings. He had simpl}^ said to Dorothea — 

"To be sure, I will write, my dear. He 's a very clever 
young follow — this young Ladislaw — I dare say will be a 
rising young man. It's a good letter — marks his sense of 
things, you know. However, I will tell him about Casaubon." 



304 MIDDLEMARCH. 

But the end of Mr. Brooke's pen was a thinking organ, 
evolving sentences, especially of a benevolent kind, before the 
rest of his mind could well overtake thejn. It expressed re- 
grets and pio osed remedies, which, when Mr. Brooke read 
them, seemed felicitously worded — surprisingly the right 
thing, and determined a sequel which he had never before 
thought of. In this case, his pen found it such a pity that 
young Ladislaw should not have come into the neighborhood 
just at that time, in order that Mr. Brooke might make his 
acquaintance more fully, and that thej^ might go over the long- 
neglected Italian drawings together — it also felt such an in- 
terest in a young man who was starting m life with a stock of 
ideas — that by the end of the second page it had persuaded 
Mr. Brooke to invite young Ladislaw, since he could not be 
received at Lowick, to come to Tipton Grange. Why not ? 
They could find a great many things to do together, and this 
was a period of peculiar growth — the political horizon was 
expanding, and — in short, Mr. Brooke's pen went off into a 
little speech which it had lately reported for that imperfectly 
edited organ the ''■ Middlemarch Pioneer." While Mr. Brooke 
was sealing this letter, he felt elated with an influx of dim 
projects : — a young man capable of putting ideas into form, 
the " Pioneer " purchased to clear the pathway for a new candi- 
date, documents utilized — who knew what might come of it 
all ? Since Celia was going to marry immediately, it would 
be very pleasant to have a young fellow at table with him, at 
least for a time. 

But he went away without telling Dorothea what he had 
put into the letter, for she was engaged with her husband, 
and — in fact, these things were of no importance to her. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 305 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

" How will you know the pitch of that great bell 
Too large for yon to stir ? Let but a flute 
Play 'neath the fine-mixed metal : listen close 
Till the right note flows forth, a silvery rill: 
Then shall the huge bell tremble — then the mass 
With myriad waves concurrent shall respond 
In low soft unison/' 

Lydgate that evening spoke to Miss Vincy of Mrs. Casau- 
bon, and laid some emphasis on the strong feeling she ap- 
peared to have for that formal studious man thirty years 
older than herself. 

"Of course she is devoted to her husband," said Eosamond, 
implying a notion of necessary sequence which the scientific 
man regarded as the prettiest possible for a woman ; but she 
was thinking at the same time that it was not so very melan- 
choly to be mistress of Lowick Manor with a husband likely 
to die soon. " Do you think her very handsome ? " 

" She certainly is handsome, but I have not thought about 
it," said Lydgate. 

"I suppose it would be unprofessional," said Rosamond, 
dimpling. " But how your practice is spreading ! You were 
called in before to the Chettams, I think ; and now, the 
Casaubons." 

"Yes," said Lydgate, in a tone of compulsory admission. 
"But I don't really like attending such people so well as the 
poor. The cases are more monotonous, and one has to go 
through more fuss and listen more deferentially to nonsense." 

" Not more than in Middlemarch," said Rosamond. " And 
at least you go through wide corridors and have the scent of 
rose-leaves everywhere." 

"That is true, IMademoiselle de Montmorenci," said Lyd- 
gate, just bending his head to the table and lifting with his 
fourth finger her delicate handkerchief which lay at the mouth 
VOL. vn. 20 



306 MIDDLEMARCH. 

of her reticule, as if to enjoy its scent, while he looked at her 
with a smile. 

But this agreeable holiday freedom with which Lydgate 
hovered about the flower of Middle march, could not continue 
indefinitely. It was not more possible to find social isolation 
in that town than elsewhere, and two people persistently flirt- 
ing could by no means escape from " the various entangle- 
ments, weights, blows, clashings, motions, by w^hich things 
severally go on." Whatever Miss Vincy did must be remarked, 
and she was perhaps the more conspicuous to admirers and 
critics because just now Mrs. Vincy, after some struggle, had 
gone with Fred to stay a little wdiile at Stone Court, there 
being no other way of at once gratifying old Featherstone 
and keeping watch against JMary Garth, who appeared a 
less tolerable daughter-in-law in proportion as Fred's illness 
disappeared. 

Aunt Bulstrode, for example, came a little oftener into 
Lowick Gate to see Eosamond, now she was alone. For Mrs. 
Bulstrode had a true sisterly feeling for her brother; always 
thinking that he might have married better, but wishing well 
to the children. Now Mrs. Bulstrode had a long-standing in- 
timacy with Mrs. Plymdale. They had nearly the same pref- 
erences in silks, patterns for underclothing, china-w^ire, and 
clergymen ; they confided their little troubles of health and 
household management to each other, and various little points 
of superiority on Mrs. Bulstrode's side, namely, more decided 
seriousness, more admiration for mind, and a house outside 
the town, sometimes served to give color to their conversation 
without dividing them : well-meaning women both, knowing 
very little of their own motives. 

Mrs. Bulstrode, paying a morning visit to Mrs. Plymdale, 
happened to say that she could not stay longer, because she 
was going to see poor Eosamond. 

"Why do you say ^poor Eosamond'?" said Mrs. Plym- 
dale, a round-eyed sharp little woman, like a tamed falcon. 

" She is so pretty, and has been brought up in such thought- 
lessness. The mother, you know, had always that levity about 
her, which makes me anxious for the children," 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 307 

" Well, Harriet, if I am to speak my mind," said Mrs. Plym- 
dale, with emphasis, " I must say, anybody would suppose you 
and ]\rr. Bulstrode would be delighted with what has happened, 
for you have done everything to put Mr. Lydgate forward." 

" Selina, w^hat do you mean ? " said Mrs. Bulstrode, in 
genuine surprise. 

"Not but what I am truly thankful for Ned's sake," said 
Mrs. Plymdale. " He could certainly better afford to keep such 
a wife than some people can; but I should wish him to look 
elsewhere. Still a mother has anxieties, and some young men 
would take to a bad life in consequence. Besides, if I was 
obliged to speak, I should say I was not fond of strangers 
coming into a town." 

" I don't know, Selina," said Mrs. Bulstrode, with a little 
emphasis in her turn. " ]\[r. Bulstrode was a stranger here 
at one time. Abraham and Moses were strangers in the land, 
and we are told to entertain strangers. And especially," she 
added, after a slight pause, '' when they are unexceptionable." 

" I was not speaking in a religious sense, Harriet. I spoke 
as a mother." 

''Selina, I am sure you have never heard me say anything 
against a niece of mine marrying your son." 

" Oh, it is pride in Miss Vincy — I am sure it is nothing 
else," said Mrs. Blymdale, who had never before given all her 
confidence to "Harriet" on this subject. "Xo young man in 
Middlemarch was good enough for her : I have heard her 
mother say as much. That is not a Christian spirit, I think. 
But now, from all I hear, she has found a man as proud as 
herself." 

" You don't mean that there is anything between Eosamond 
and Mr. Lydgate?" said Mrs. Bulstrode, rather mortified at 
finding out her own ignorance. 

" Is it possible you don't know, Harriet ? " 

" Oh, I go about so little ; and I am not fond of gossip ; I 
really never hear any. You sec so many people that I don't 
see. Your circle is rather different from ours." 

" W^ell, but your own niece and Mr. Bulstrode's great 
favorite — and yours too, I am sure, Harriet ! I thought. 



308 MIDDLEMARCH. 

at one time, you meant him for Kate, when she is a little 
older/' 

" I don't believe there can be anything serious at present," 
said Mrs. Bulstrode. " My brother would certainly have told 
me." 

"Well, people have different ways, but I understand that 
nobody can see Miss Vincy and Mr. Lydgate together without 
taking them to be engaged. However, it is not my business. 
Shall I put up the pattern of mittens ? " 

After this Mrs. Bulstrode drove to her niece with a mind 
newly weighted. She was herself handsomely dressed, but she 
noticed with a little more regret than usual that Rosamond, 
who was just come in and met her in walking-dress, was almost 
as expensively equipped. Mrs. Bulstrode was a feminine, 
smaller edition of her brother, and had none of her husband's 
low-toned pallor. She had a good honest glance and used no 
circumlocution. 

" You are alone, I see, my dear," she said, as they entered 
the drawing-room together, looking round gravely. Rosamond 
felt sure that her aunt had something particular to say, and 
they sat down near each other. Nevertheless, the quilling 
inside Rosamond's bonnet was so charming that it was impos- 
sible not to desire the same kind of thing for Kate, and Mrs. 
Bulstrode's eyes, which were rather fine, rolled round that 
ample quilled circuit, while she spoke. 

" I have just heard something about you that has surprised 
me very much, Rosamond." 

" What is that, aunt ? " Rosamond's eyes also were roam- 
ing over her aunt's large embroidered collar. 

" I can hardly believe it — that you should be engaged 
without my knowing it — without your father's telling me." 
Here Mrs. Bulstrode's eyes finally rested on Rosamond's, who 
blushed deeply, and said — 

" I am not engaged, aunt." 

"How is it that every one says so, then — that it is the 
town's talk ? " 

" The town's talk is of very little consequence, 1 think," 
said Rosamond, inwardly gratified. 



AVAITING FOR DEATH. 309 

" Oh, my dear, be more thoughtful ; don't despise your 
neighbors so. Remember you are turned twenty-two now, 
and you will have no fortune : your father, I am sure, will not 
be able to spare you anything. Mr. Lydgate is very in- 
tellectual and clever ; I know there is an attraction in that. I. 
like talking to such men myself; and your uncle finds him 
very useful. But the profession is a poor one here. To be 
sure, this life is not everything ; but it is seldom a medical 
man has true religious views — there is too much pride of 
intellect. And you are not fit to marry a poor man." 

" Mr. Lydgate is not a poor man, aunt. He has very high 
connections." 

" He told me himself he was poor." 

" That is because he is used to people who have a high style 
of living." 

*' My dear Kosamond, yoiL must not think of living in high 
style." 

Rosamond looked down and played with her reticule. She 
was not a fiery j^oung lady and had no sharp answers, but she 
meant to live as she pleased. 

"Then it is really true?" said Mrs. Bulstrode, looking 
very earnestly at her niece. " You are thinking of Mr. Lyd- 
gate : there is some understanding between you, though your 
father does n't know. Be open, my dear Rosamond : Mr. 
Lydgate has really made you an offer ? " 

Poor Rosamond's feelings were very unpleasant. She had 
been quite easy as to Lydgate's feeling and intention, but now 
when her aunt put this question she did not like being unable 
to say Yes. Her pride was hurt, but her habitual control of 
manner helped her. 

" Pray excuse me, aunt. I would rather not speak on the 
subject." 

" You w^ould not give your heart to a man without a decided 
prospect, I trust, my dear. And think of the two excellent 
offers I know of that you have refused ! — and one still with- 
in your reach, if you will not throw it away. I knew a very 
great beauty who married badly at last, by doing so. Mr. 
Ned Plymdale is a nice young man — some might think good- 



310 MIDDLEMARCH. 

looking ; and an only son ; and a large business of that kind 
is better than a profession. Not that marrying is everything. 
I would have you seek first the kingdom of God. But a girl 
should keep her heart within her own power." 

" I should never give it to Mr. Ned Plymdale, if it were. 1 
have already refused him. If I loved, I should love at once 
and without change," said Eosamond, with a great sense of 
being a romantic lieroine, and playing the part prettily. 

" I see how it is, my dear," said Mrs. Bulstrode, in a melan- 
choly voice, rising to go. " You have allowed your affections 
to be engaged without return." 

''No, indeed, aunt," said Eosamond, with emphasis. 

"Then you are quite confident that Mr. Lydgate has a 
serious attachment to you ? " 

Eosamond's cheeks by this time were persistently burning, 
and she felt much mortification. She chose to be silent, and 
her aunt went away all the more convinced. 

Mr. Bulstrode in things Avorldly and indifferent was dis- 
posed to do what his wife bade him, and she now, without 
telling her reasons, desired him on the next opportunity to 
find out in conversation with Mr. Lydgate whether he had 
any intention of marrying soon. The result was a decided 
negative. Mr. Bulstrode, on being cross-questioned, showed 
that Lydgate had spoken as no man would who had any 
attachment that could issue in matrimony. Mrs. Bulstrode 
now felt that she had a serious duty before her, and she soon 
managed to arrange a tete-a-tete with Lydgate, in which she 
passed from inquiries about Fred Vincy's health, and expres- 
sions of her sincere anxiety for her brother's large family, to 
general remarks on the dangers which lay before j^oung peo- 
ple with regard to their settlement in life. Young men were 
often wild and disappointing, making little return for the 
money spent on them, and a girl was exposed to many circum- 
stances which might interfere with her prospects. 

"Especially when she has great attractions, and her parents 
see much company," said Mrs. Bulstrode. " Gentlemen pay 
her attention, and engross her all to themselves, for the mere 
pleasure of the moment, and that drives oif others. I think it 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 811 

is a heavy responsibility, Mr. Lydgate, to interfere with the 
prospects of any girl." Here Mrs. Bulstrode fixed her eyes 
on him, with an unmistakable purpose of -warning, if not of 
rebuke. 

" Clearly," said Lydgate, looking at her — perhaps even 
staring a little in return. '' On the other liand, a man must 
be a great coxcomb to go about with a notion that he must 
not pay attention to a young lady lest she should fall in love 
with him, or lest others should think she must." 

" Oh, Mr. Lydgate, you know well what your advantages 
are. You know that our young men here cannot cope with 
you. Where you frequent a house it may militate very much 
against a girl's making a desirable settlement in life, and 
prevent her from accepting offers even if they are made." 

Lydgate was less flattered by his advantage over the Mid- 
dlemarch Orlandos than he was annoyed by the perception of 
Mrs. Bulstrode's meaning. She felt that she had spoken as 
impressively as it was necessary to do, and that in using the 
superior word "militate" she had thrown a noble drapery 
ever a mass of particulars which were still evident enough. 

Lydgate was fuming a little, pushed his hair back with one 
hand, felt curiously in his waistcoat-pocket with the other, 
and then stooped to beckon the tiny black spaniel, which had 
the insight to decline his hollow caresses. It would not have 
been decent to go away, because he had been dining with 
other guests, and had just taken tea. But Mrs. Bulstrode, 
having no doubt that she had been understood, turned the 
conversation. 

Solomon's Proverbs, I think, have omitted to say, that as 
the sore palate findeth grit, so an uneasy consciousness 
heareth innuendoes. The next day Mr. Farebrother, parting 
from Lydgate in the street, supposed that they should meet 
at Vincy's in the evening. Lydgate answered curtl}^ no — he 
had work to do — he must give up going out in the evening. 

" What ! you are going to get lashed to the mast, eh, and 
are stopping your ears ? " said the Vicar. " Well, if you don't 
mean to be won by the sirens, you are right to take precau- 
tions in time." 



312 MIDDLEMARCH. 

A few days before, Lydgate would have taken no notice of 
these words as anything more than the Vicar's usual way of 
putting things. They seemed now to convey an innuendo 
which confirmed the impression that he had been making a 
fool of himself and behaving so as to be misunderstood : not, 
he believed, by Kosamond herself ; she, he felt sure, took 
everything as lightly as he intended it. She had an exquisite 
tact and insight in relation to all points of manners ; but the 
people she lived among were blunderers and busybodies. 
However, the mistake should go no farther. He resolved — 
and kept his resolution — that he would not go to Mr. Vincy's 
except on business. 

Kosamond became very unhappy. The uneasiness first 
stirred by her aunt's questions grew and grew till at the end of 
ten days that she had not seen Lydgate, it grew into terror at 
the blank that might possibly come — into foreboding of that 
ready, fatal sponge which so cheaply wipes out the hopes of 
mortals. The world would have a new dreariness for her, as 
a wilderness that a magician's spells had turned for a little 
while into a garden. She felt that she was beginning to know 
the pang of disappointed love, and that no other man could be 
the occasion of such delightful aerial building as she had been 
enjoying for the last six months. Poor Eosamond lost her 
appetite and felt as forlorn as Ariadne — as a charming stage 
Ariadne left behind with all her boxes full of costumes and no 
hope of a coach. 

There are many wonderful mixtures in the world which are 
all alike called love, and claim the privileges of a sublime 
rage which is an apology for everything (in literature and the 
drama). Happily Rosamond did not think of committing any 
desperate act : she plaited her fair hair as beautifully as usual, 
and kept herself proudly calm. Her most cheerful supposi- 
tion was that her aunt Bui strode had interfered in some way 
to hinder Lj'dgate's visits : everything was better than a spon- 
taneous indifference in him. Any one who imagines ten days 
too short a time — not for falling into leanness, lightness, 
or other measurable effects of passion, but — for the whole 
spiritual circuit of alarmed conjecture and disappointment, is 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 318 

ignorant of what can go on in tlie elegant leisure of a young 
lady's mind. 

On the eleventh day, however, Lydgate when leaving Stone 
Court Avas requested by Mrs. Yincy to let her husband know 
that there was a marked change in Mr. Featherstone's health, 
and that she wished him to come to Stone Court on that day. 
Now Lydgate might have called at the warehouse, or might 
have written a message on a leaf of his pocket-book and left it 
at the door. Yet these simple devices apparently did not occur 
to him, from which we may conclude that he had no strong 
objection to calling at the house at an hour when Mr. Yincy 
was not at home, and leaving the message with Miss Yinc}'. 
A man may, from various motives, decline to give his com- 
pany, but perhaps not even a sage would be gratified that no- 
body missed him. It would be a graceful, easy way of piecing 
on the new habits to the old, to have a few playful words with 
Kosamond about his resistance to dissipation, and his firm 
resolve to take long fasts even from sweet sounds. It must 
be confessed, also, that momentary speculations as to all the 
possible grounds for Mrs. lUilstrode's hints had managed to 
get woven like slight clinging hairs into the more substantial 
web of his thoughts. 

Miss Yincy was alone, and blushed so deeply when Lydgate 
came in that he felt a corresponding embarrassment, and in- 
stead of any playfulness, he began at once to speak of his 
reason for calling, and to beg her, almost formally, to deliver 
the message to her father. Kosamond, who at the first moment 
felt as if her happiness were returning, was keenly hurt by 
Lydgate's manner ; her blush had departed, and she assented 
coldly, without adding an unnecessary word, some trivial chain- 
work which she had in her hands enabling her to avoid looking 
at Lydgate higher than his chin. In all failures, the beginning 
is certainly the half of the whole. After sitting two long 
moments while he moved his whip and could say nothing, 
Lydgate rose to go, and Rosamond, made nervous by her 
struggle between mortification and the wish not to betray it, 
dropped her chain as if startled, and rose too, mechanically. 
Lydgate instantaneously stooped to pick up the chain. When 



314 MIDDLEMARCH. 

he rose lie was very near to a lovely little face set on a fair 
long neck which he had been used to see turning about under 
the most perfect management of self-contented grace. But as 
he raised his eyes now he saw a certain helpless quivering 
which touched him quite newly, and made him look at 
Eosamond with a questioning flash. At this moment she 
was as natural as she had ever been when she was five years 
old: she felt that her tears had risen, and it was no use to 
try to do anything else than let tbem stay like water on a 
blue flower or let them fall over her cheeks, even as they 
would. 

That moment of naturalness was the crystallizing feather- 
touch: it shook flirtation into love. Kemember that the ambi- 
tious man who was looking at those Forget-me-nots under the 
water was very warm-hearted and rash. He did not know 
where the chain went; an idea had thrilled through the re- 
cesses within him which had a miraculous effect in raising the 
power of passionate love lying buried there in no sealed sepul- 
chre, but under the lightest, easily pierced mould. His words 
were quite abrupt and awkward ; but the tone made them 
sound like an ardent, appealing avowal. 

" What is the matter ? you are distressed. Tell me, pray." 
Eosamond had never been spoken to in such tones before. 
I am not sure that she knew what the words were : but she 
looked at Lydgate and the tears fell over her cheeks. There 
could have been no more complete answer than that silence, 
and Lydgate, forgetting everything else, completely mastered 
by the outrush of tenderness at the sudden belief that this 
sweet young creature depended on him for her joy, actually 
put his arms round her, folding her gently and protectingly — 
he was used to being gentle with the weak and suffering — and 
kissed each of the two large tears. This was a strange way 
of arriving at an understanding, but it was a short way. Eosa- 
mond was not angry, but she moved backward a little in timid 
happiness, and Lydgate could now sit near her and speak less 
nicompletely. Eosamond had to make her little confession, 
and he poured out words of gratitude and tenderness with im- 
T^ulsive lavishment. In half an hour he left the house an 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 315 

engaged man, whose soul was not his own, but the woman's 
to whom he had bound himself. 

He came again in the evening to speak with ^Ir. Vine}', who, 
just returned from Stone Court, was feeling sure that it would 
not be long before he heard of Mr. Featherstone's demise. 
The felicitous word " demise," which had seasonably occurred 
to him, had raised his S])irits even above their usual evening 
pitch. The right word is always a power, and communicates 
its definiteness to our action. Considered as a demise, old 
Featherstone's death assumed a merely legal aspect, so that 
Mr. Vincy could tap his snuff-box over it and be jovial, with- 
out even an intermittent affectation of solemnity ; and Mr. 
Vincy hated both solemnity and affectation. Who was ever 
awe-struck about a testator, or sang a hymn on the title to real 
property ? Mr. Vincy was inclined to take a jovial view of 
all things that evening: he even observed to Lydgate that 
Fred had got the family constitution after all, and would soon 
be as fine a fellow as ever again ; and when his approbation 
of Eosamond's engagement was asked for, he gave it with as- 
tonishing facility, passing at once to general remarks on the 
desirableness of matrimony for young men and maidens, and 
apparently deducing from the whole the appropriateness of a 
little more punch. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

They '11 take suggestion as a cat laps milk. 

Shakespeare : Tempest. 

The triumphant confidence of the !Mayor founded on Mr. 
Featherstone's insistent demand that Fred and his motlier 
should not leave him, was a feeble emotion compared with all 
that was agitating the breasts of the old man's blood-relations, 
who naturally manifested more their sense of the family tie 
and were more visibly numerous now that he had become bed- 



316 MIDDLEMARCH. 

ridden. Naturally : for when " poor Peter " had occupied his 
arm-chair in the wainscoted parlor, no assiduous beetles for 
Avhom the cook prepares boiling water could have been less 
welcome on a hearth which they had reasons for preferring, 
than those persons whose Fcatherstone blood was ill-nour- 
ished, not from penuriousness on their part, but from povertj^ 
Brother Solomon and Sister Jane were rich, and the family 
candor and total abstinence from false politeness with which 
they were always received seemed to them no argument that 
their brother in the solemn act of making his will would over- 
look the superior claims of wealth. Themselves at least he 
had never been unnatural enough to banish from his house, 
and it seemed hardly eccentric that he should have kept away 
Brother Jonah, Sister Martha, and the rest, who had no shadow 
of such claims. They knew Peter's maxim, that money was a 
good egg, and should be laid in a warm nest. 

But Brother Jonah, Sister Martha, and all the needy exiles, 
held a different point of view. Probabilities are as various as 
the faces to be seen at will in fretwork or paper-hangings : 
every form is there, from Jupiter to Judy, if you only look 
with creative inclination. To the poorer and least favored it 
seemed likely that since Peter had done nothing for them in 
his life, he would remember them at the last. Jonah argued 
that men liked to make a surprise of their wills, while Martha 
said that nobody need be surprised if he left the best part of 
his money to those who least expected it. Also it was not to 
be thought but that an own brother "lying there " with dropsy 
in his legs must come to feel that blood was thicker than 
water, and if he did n't alter his will, he might have money by 
him. At any rate some blood-relations should be on the prem- 
ises and on the watch against those who were hardly relations 
at all. Such things had been known as forged wills and dis- 
puted Avills, which seemed to have the golden-hazy advantage 
of somehow enabling non-legatees to live out of them. Again, 
those who were no blood-relations might be caught making 
away with things — and poor Peter "lying there" hel])less ! 
Somebody should be on the watch. But in this conclusion 
they were at one with Solomon and Jane ; also, some nephews^ 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 317 

nieces, and cousins, arguing with still greater subtilty as to 
what might be done by a man able to '' will away " his prop- 
erty and give himself large treats of oddity, felt in a handsome 
sort of way that there was a family interest to be attended to, 
and thought of Stone Court as a place which it would be noth- 
ing but right for them to visit. Sister Martha, otherwise Mrs. 
Cranch, living with some wheeziness in the Chalky Flats, 
could not undertake the journey ; but her son, as being poor 
Peter's own nephew, could represent her advantageously, and 
watch lest his uncle Jonah should make an unfair use of the 
improbable things which seemed likely to happen. In fact 
there was a general sense running in the Featherstone blood 
that everybody must watch everybody else, and that it would 
be well for everybody else to reflect that the Almighty was 
watching him. 

Thus Stone Court continually saw one or other blood-relation 
alighting or departing, and IMary Garth had the unpleasant 
task of carrying their messages to Mr. Featherstone, who would 
see none of them, and sent her down with the still more un- 
pleasant task of telling them so. As manager of the house- 
hold she felt bound to ask them in good provincial fashion to 
stay and eat; but she chose to consult Mrs. Vincy on the 
point of extra down-stairs consumption now that ^h: Feather- 
stone was laid u}). 

^' Oh, my dear, you must do things handsomely where there 's 
last illness and a property. God knows, / don't grudge them 
every ham in the house — only, save the best for the funeral. 
Have some stuffed veal always, and a fine cheese in cut. You 
must expect to keej) open house in these last illnesses," said 
liberal Mrs. Vincy, once more of cheerful note and bright 
plumage. 

But some of the visitors alighted and did not depart after 
the handsome treating to veal and ham. Brother Jonah, for 
example (there are such unpleasant people in most families ; 
perhaps even in the highest aristocracy there are Brobdingnag 
specimens, gigantically in debt and bloated at greater expense) 
— Brother Jonah, I say, having come down in the world, was 
mainly supported by a calling which he was modest enough 



318 MIDDLEMARCH. 

not to boast of, though it was much better than swindling 
either on exchange or turf, but which did not require his pres- 
ence at Brassing so long as he had a good corner to sit in and 
a supply of food. He chose the kitchen-corner, partly because 
he liked it best, and partly because he did not want to sit with 
Solomon, concerning whom he had a strong brotherly opinion. 
Seated in a famous arm-chair and in his best suit, constantly 
within sight of good cheer, he had a comfortable consciousness 
of being on the premises, mingled with fleeting suggestions of 
Sunday and the bar at the Green Man ; and he informed Mary 
Garth that he should not go out of reach of his brother Peter 
while that poor fellow was above ground. The troublesome 
ones in a family are usually either the wits or the idiots. 
Jonah was the wit among the Featherstones, and joked with 
the maid-servants when they came about the hearth, but 
seemed to consider Miss Garth a suspicious character, and 
followed her with cold eyes. 

Mary would have borne this one pair of eyes with compara- 
tive ease, but unfortunately there was young Cranch, who, 
having come all the way from the Chalky Flats to represent 
his mother and watch his uncle Jonah, also felt it his duty to 
stay and to sit chiefly in the kitchen to give his uncle com- 
pany. Young Cranch was not exactly the balancing point 
between the wit and the idiot, — verging slightly towards the 
latter type, and squinting so as to leave everything in doubt 
about his sentiments except that they were not of a forcible 
character. When Mary Garth entered the kitchen and Mr. 
Jonah Featherstone began to follow her with his cold detec- 
tive eyes, young Cranch turning his head in the same direction 
seemed to insist on it that she should remark how he was 
squinting, as if he did it with design, like the gypsies when 
Borrow read the New Testament to them. This was rather 
too much for poor Mary ; sometimes it made her bilious, 
sometimes it upset her gravity. One day that she had an 
opportunity she could not resist describing the kitchen scene 
to Fred, who would not be hindered from immediately going 
to see it, affecting simply to pass through. But no sooner did 
he face the four eyes than he had to rush through the nearest 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 319 

door which happened to lead to the dairy, and there under the 
high roof and among the pans he gave way to laughter which 
made a hollow resonance perfectly audible in the kitchen. 
He fled by another doorway, but Mr. Jonah, who had not 
before seen Fred's white complexion, long legs, and pinched 
delicacy of face, prepared many sarcasms in which these points 
of appearance were wittily combined with the lowest moral 
attributes. 

" Why, Tom, you don't wear such gentlemanly trousers — 
you have n't got half such line long legs," said Jonah to his 
nephew, winking at the same time, to imply that there was 
something more in these statements than their undeniableness. 
Tom looked at his legs, but left it uncertain whether he pre- 
ferred his moral advantages to a more vicious length of limb 
and reprehensible gentility of trouser. 

In the large wainscoted parlor too there were constantly 
pairs of eyes on the watch, and own relatives eager to be 
*' sitters-up." Many came, lunched, and departed, but Brother 
Solomon and the lady who had been Jane Featherstone for 
twenty-five years before she was Mrs. Waule found it good to 
be there ever}^ day for hours, without other calculable occupa- 
tion than that of observing the cunning Mary Garth (who was 
so deep that she could be found out in nothing) and giving 
occasional dry wrinkly indications of crying — as if capable of 
torrents in a wetter season — at the thought that they were not 
allowed to go into Mr. Featherstone's room. For the old man's 
dislike of his own family seemed to get stronger as he got less 
able to amuse himself by saying biting things to them. Too 
languid to sting, he had the more venom refluent in his blood. 

Not fully believing the message sent through Mary Garth, 
they had presented themselves together within the door of 
the bedroom, both in black — Mrs. Waule having a wdiite 
handkerchief partially unfolded in her hand — and both with 
faces in a sort of half-mourning purple ; while Mrs. Vincy 
with her pink cheeks and pink ribbons flying was actually 
administering a cordial to their own brother, and the light- 
complexioned Fred, his short hair curling as might be expected 
in a gambler's, was lolling at his ease in a large chair. 



320 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Old Featherstone no sooner caught sight of these funereal 
figures appearing in spite of his orders than rage came to 
strengthen him more successfully than the cordial. He was 
propped up on a bed-rest, and always had his gold-headed stick 
lying by him. He seized it now and swept it backwards and 
forwards in as large an area as he could, apparently to ban 
these ugly spectres, crying in a hoarse sort of screech — 

" Back, back, Mrs. Waule ! Back, Solomon ! *' 

" Oh, Brother Peter," Mrs. Waule began — but Solomon put 
his hand before her repressingly. He was a large-cheeked 
man, nearly seventy, with small furtive eyes, and was not only 
of much blander temper but thought himself much deeper than 
his brother Peter ; indeed not likely to be deceived in any of 
his fellow-men, inasmuch as they could not well be more 
greedy and deceitful than he suspected them of being. Even 
the invisible powers, he thought, were likely to be soothed by 
a bland parenthesis here and there — coming from a man of 
property, who might have been as impious as others. 

" Brother Peter," he said, in a wheedling yet gravely official 
tone, '' It 's nothing but right I should speak to you about the 
Three Crofts and the Manganese. The Almighty knows what 
I 've got on my mind — " 

"Then he knows more than I want to know," said Peter, 
laying down his stick with a show of truce which had a threat 
in it too, for he reversed the stick so as to make the gold han- 
dle a club in case of closer fighting, and looked hard at Solo- 
mon's bald head. 

" There 's things you might repent of. Brother, for want of 
speaking to me," said Solomon, not advancing, however. "I 
could sit up with you to-night, and Jane with me, willingly, 
and you might take your own time to speak, or let me speak." 

"Yes, I shall take my own time — you needn't offer me 
yours," said Peter. 

" But you can't take your own time to die in, Brother," be- 
gan Mrs. Waule, with her usual woolly tone. "And when you 
lie speechless you may be tired of having strangers about 
you, and you may think of me and my children" — bat here 
her voice broke under the touching thought which she was 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 321 

attributing to her speechless brother ; the mention of our- 
selves being naturally affecting. 

" Xo, I shan't," said old Teatherstone, contradictiously. " I 
shan't think of any of you. I Ve made my will, I tell you, I We 
made my will." Here he turned his head towards Mrs. Vincy, 
and swallowed some more of his cordial. 

" Some people would be ashamed to fill up a place belonging 
by rights to others," said Mrs. Waule, turning her narrow eyes 
in the same direction. 

" Oh, sister," said Solomon, with ironical softness, " you and 
me are not fine, and handsome, and clever enough : we must 
be humble and let smart people push themselves before us." 

Fred's spirit could not bear this : rising and looking at Mr. 
Featherstone, he said, "Shall my mother and I leave the room, 
sir, that you may be alone with your friends ? " 

" Sit down, I tell you," said old Featherstone, snappishly. 
" Stop where you are. Good-by, Solomon," he added, trying 
to wield his stick again, but failing now that he had reversed 
the handle. "■ Good-by, ^Irs. Waule. Don't you come again." 

" I shall be down-stairs, Brotlier, wlietlier or no," said Solo- 
mon. "I shall do 77if/ duty, and it remains to be seen what 
the Almighty will allow." 

" Yes, in property going out of families," said Mrs. Waule, 
in continuation, — "and where there 's steady young men to 
carry on. But I pity them who are not such, and I pity their 
mothers. Good-by, Brother Peter." 

" Remember, I 'm the eldest after you, Brother, and pros- 
pered from the first, just as you did, and have got land already 
by the name of Featherstone," said Solomon, relying much on 
that reflection, as one which might be suggested in the watches 
of the night. " But I bid you good-by for the present." 

Their exit was hastened by their seeing old Mr. Featherstone 
pull his wig on each side and shut his eyes with his mouth- 
widening grimace, as if he were determined to be deaf and 
blind. 

None the less they came to Stone Court daily and sat below 
at the post of duty, sometimes carrying on a slow dialogue in 
an undertone in which the observation and response were so 

VOL. VII. 21 



322 MIDDLEMARCH. 

far apart, that any one hearing them might have imagined 
himself listening to speaking automata, in some doubt whether 
the ingenious mechanism would really work, or wind itself up 
for a long time in order to stick and be silent. Solomon and 
Jane would have been sorry to be quick : what that led to 
might be seen on the other side of the wall in the person of 
Brother Jonah. 

But their w^atch in the wainscoted parlor was sometimes 
varied by the presence of other guests from far or near. ^N'ow 
that Peter Eeatherstone was up-stairs, his property could be 
discussed with all that local enlightenment to be found on the 
spot : some rural and Middlemarch neighbors expressed much 
agreement with the family and sympathy with their interest 
against the Vincys, and feminine visitors were even moved to 
tears, in conversation with Mrs. Waule, when they recalled the 
fact that they themselves had been disappointed in times past 
by codicils and marriages for spite on the part of ungrateful 
elderly gentlemen, who, it might have been supposed, had been 
spared for something better. Such conversation paused sud- 
denly, like an organ when the bellows are let drop, if Mary 
Garth came into the room ; and all eyes were turned on her as 
a possible legatee, or one who might get access to iron chests. 

But the younger men who were relatives or connections of 
the family, were disposed to admire her in this problematic 
light, as a girl who showed much conduct, and who among all 
the chances that were flying might turn out to be at least a 
moderate prize. Hence she had her share of compliments and 
polite attentions. 

Especially from Mr. Borthrop Trumbull, a distinguished 
bachelor and auctioneer of those parts, much concerned in the 
sale of land and cattle : a public character, indeed, whose name 
was seen on widely distributed placards, and who might rea- 
sonably be sorry for those wdio did not know of him. He was 
second cousin to Peter Featherstone, and had been treated by 
him with more amenity than any other relative, being useful 
in matters of business ; and in that programme of his funeral 
which the old man had himself dictated, he had been named 
as a Bearer. There was no odious cupidity in Mr. Borthrop 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 323 

Trumbull — nothing more than a sincere sense of his own 
merit, which, he was aware, in case of rivalry might tell against 
competitors ; so that if Peter Featherstone, who so far as he, 
Trumbull, was concerned, had behaved like as good a soul as 
ever breathed, should have done anything handsome by him, 
all he could say was, that he had never fished and fawned, but 
had advised him to the best of his experience, which now ex- 
tended over twenty years from the time of his apprenticeship 
ac fifteen, and was likely to yield a knowledge of no surrep- 
titious kind. His admiration was far from being confined to 
himself, but was accustomed professionally as well as privately 
to delight in estimating things at a high rate. He was an am- 
ateur of superior phrases, and never used poor language with- 
out immediately correcting himself — which was fortunate, as 
he was rather loud, and given to predominate, standing or 
walking about frequently, pulling down his waistcoat wnth the 
air of a man who is very much of his own opinion, trimming 
himself rapidly with his fore-finger, and marking each new se- 
ries in these movements by a busy play with his large seals. 
There was occasionally a little fierceness in his demeanor, but 
it was directed chiefly against false opinion, of wdiich there is 
so much to correct in the world that a man of some reading 
and experience necessarily has his patience tried. He felt that 
the Featherstone family generally was of limited understand- 
ing, but being a man of the world and a public character, took 
everything as a matter of course, and even went to converse 
with Mr. Jonah and young Cranch in the kitchen, not doubting 
that he had impressed the latter greatly by his leading ques- 
tions concerning the Chalky Flats. If anybody had observed 
that Mr. Borthrop Trumbull, being an auctioneer, was bound 
to know the nature of everything, he would have smiled and 
trimmed himself silently with the sense that he came pretty 
near that. On the whole, in an auctioneering way, he was an 
honorable man, not ashamed of his business, and feeling that 
" the celebrated Peel, now Sir Eobert," if introduced to hira, 
would not fail to recognize his importance. 

" I don't mind if I have a slice of that ham, and a glass of 
that ale. Miss Garth, if you will allow me," he said, coming 



S24 MIDDLEMARCH. 

into the parlor at half-jjast eleven, after having had the excep- 
tional privilege of seeing old Featherstone, and standing with 
his back to the fire between Mrs. Waule and Solomon. 

" It 's not necessary for you to go out ; — let me ring the bell.'^ 

"Thank you,-' said Mary, "I have an errand." 

'^Well, Mr. Trumbull, you're highly favored," said Mrs. 
Waule. 

"What ! seeing the old man ?" said the auctioneer, playing 
with his seals dispassionately. "Ah, you see he has relied 
on me considerably." Here he pressed his lips together, and 
frowned meditatively. 

" Might anybody ask what their brother has been saying ? " 
said Solomon, in a soft tone of humility, in which he had a 
sense of luxurious cunning, he being a rich man and not in 
need of it. 

" Oh yes, anybody may ask," said Mr. Trumbull, with loud 
and good-humored though cutting sarcasm. "Anybody may 
interrogate. Any one may give their remarks an interrogative 
turn," he continued, his sonorousness rising with his style. 
" This is constantly done by good speakers, even when they 
anticipate no answer. It is what w^e call a figure of speech — 
speech at a high figure, as one may say." The eloquent auc- 
tioneer smiled at his own ingenuity. 

" I should n't be sorry to hear he 'd remembered you, Mr. 
Trumbull," said Solomon. " I never was against the deserving. 
It 's the undeserving I 'm against." 

" Ah, there it is, j^ou see, there it is," said Mr. Trumbull, 
significantly. " It can't be denied that undeserving people 
have been legatees, and even residuary legatees. It is so, 
with testamentary dispositions." Again he pursed up his lips 
and frowned a little. 

" Do you mean to say for certain, Mr. Trumbull, that my 
brother has left his land away from our family ? " said Mrs. 
Waule, on whom, as an unhopeful woman, those long words 
had a depressing effect. 

" A man might as well turn his land into charity land at 
once as leave it to some people," observed Solomon, his sister's 
question having drawn no answer. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 325 

" What, Blue-Coat land ? " said Mrs. Waule, again. " Ob, 
Mr. Trumbull, you never can mean to say that. It would be 
flying in the face of the Almighty that 's prospered him." 

W^hile Mrs. Waule was speaking, Mr. Borthrop Trumbull 
walked away from the fireplace towards the window, patrol- 
ling with his fore-finger round the inside of his stock, then 
along his whiskers and the curves of his hair. He now walked 
to Miss Garth's work-table, opened a book which lay there 
and read the title aloud with pompous emphasis as if he were 
offering it for sale : 

" ' Anne of Geierstein ' (pronounced Jeersteen) ' or the 
Maiden of the IStist, by the author of Waverley.' " Then turn- 
ing tlie page, he began sonorously — " The course of four 
centuries has wellnigh elapsed siuce the series of events which 
are related in the following chapters took place on the Conti- 
nent." He pronounced the last truly admirable word with 
the accent on the last syllable, not as unaware of vulgar usage, 
but feeling that this novel delivery enhanced the sonorous 
beauty which his reading had given to the whole. 

And now the servant came in with the tray, so that the 
moments for answering Mrs. W^aule's question had gone by 
safely, while she and Solomon, watching ^Ir. Trumbull's move- 
ments, were thinking that liigh learning interfered sadly with 
serious affairs. ^Mr. Borthrop Trumbull really knew nothing 
about old Featherstone's will ; but he could hardly have been 
brought to declare any ignorance unless he had been arrested 
for misprision of treason. 

" I shall take a mere mouthful of ham and a glass of ale," 
he said, reassuringly. " As a man with i)ublic business, I 
take a snack when I can. I will back this ham," he added, 
after swallowing some morsels with alarming haste, " against 
any ham in the three kingdoms. In my opinion it is better 
than the hams at Freshitt Hall — and I think I am a tolerable 
judge." 

" Some don't like so much sugar in their hams," said Mrs. 
Waule. " But my poor brother would always have sugar." 

" If any person demands better, he is at liberty to do so ; 
but, God bless me, what an aroma ! I should be glad to buy 



326 MIDDLEMARCH. 

in that quality, I know. There is some gratification to a 
gentleman " — here Mr. Trumbull's voice conveyed an emo- 
tional remonstrance — '^in having this kind of ham set on his 
table." 

He pushed aside his plate, poured out his glass of ale and 
drew his chair a little forward, profiting by the occasion to look 
at the inner side of his legs, which he stroked approvingly — 
Mr. Trumbull having all those less frivolous airs and gestures 
which distinguish the predominant races of the north. 

*' You have an interesting work there, I see, Miss Garth," 
he observed, when Mary re-entered. " It is by the author of 
* Waverley ' : that is Sir Walter Scott. I have bought one of 
his works myself — a very nice thing, a very superior publi- 
cation, entitled ' Ivanhoe.' You will not get any writer to 
beat him in a hurry, I think — he will not, in my opinion, be 
speedily surpassed. I have just been reading a portion at the 
commencement of 'Anne of Jeersteen.' It commences well." 
(Things never began ivith Mr. Borthrop Trumbull : they al- 
ways commenced, both in private life and on his handbills.) 
^' You are a reader, I see. Do you subscribe to our Middle- 
march library ? " 

" No," said Mary. " Mr. Fred Vincy brought this book." 

''I am a great bookman myself," returned Mr. Trumbull. 
" I have no less than two hundred volumes in calf, and I 
flatter myself they are well selected. Also pictures by Mu- 
rillo; Eubens, Teniers, Titian, Vandyck, and others. I shall 
be happy to lend you any work you like to mention, Miss 
Garth." 

" I am much obliged," said Mary, hastening awa}^ again, 
'' but I have little time for reading." 

" I should say my brother has done something for her in his 
will," said Mr. Solomon, in a very low undertone, when she had 
shut the door behind her, pointing with his head towards the 
absent Mary. 

" His first wife was a poor match for him, though," said Mrs. 
Waule. " She brought him nothing : and this young woman 
is only her niece, — and very proud. And my brother has 
always paid her wage.'' 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 327 

"A sensible girl though, in my opinion," said Mr. Trumbull, 
finishing his ale and starting up with an emphatic adjustment 
of his waistcoat. " I have observed her when she has been 
mixing medicine in drops. She minds what she is doing, sir. 
That is a great point in a woman, and a great point for our 
friend up-stairs, poor dear old soul. A man whose life is of 
any value should think of his wife as a nurse : that is what 
I should do, if I married ; and I believe I have lived single 
long enough not to make a mistake in that line. Some men 
must marry to elevate themselves a little, but when I am 
in need of that, I hope some one will tell me so — I hope 
some individual will apprise me of the fact. I wish you good 
morning, Mrs. Waule. Good morning, Mr. Solomon. I trust 
we shall meet under less melancholy auspices." 

When Mr. Trumbull had departed with a fine bow, Solomon, 
leaning forward, observed to his sister, " You may depend, 
Jane, my brother has left that girl a lumping sum." 

" Anybody would think so, from the way Mr. Trumbull 
talks," said Jane. Then, after a pause, " He talks as if my 
daughters was n't to be trusted to give drops." 

"Auctioneers talk wild," said Solomon. "Kot but what 
Trumbull has made money." 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Close up liis eyes and draw the curtain close ; 
And let us all to meditation. 

2 He;iry VI. 

That night after twelve o'clock Mary Garth relieved the 
watch in Mr. Featherstone's room, and sat there alone through 
the small hours. She often chose this task, in which she 
found some pleasure, notwithstanding the old man's testiness 
whenever he demanded her attentions. There were intervals 
in which she could sit perfectly still, enjoying the outer 



828 MIDDLEMARCH. 

stillness and the subdued light. The red hre with its gently 
audible movement seemed like a solemn existence calmly in- 
dependent of the petty passions, the imbecile desires, the 
straining after worthless uncertainties, which were daily mov- 
ing her contempt. Mary was fond of her own thoughts, and 
could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in 
her lap ; for, having early had strong reason to believe that 
things were not likely to be arranged for her peculiar satis- 
faction, she wasted no time in astonishment and annoyance 
at that fact. And she had already come to take life very 
much as a comedy in which she had a proud, nay, a generous 
resolution not to act the mean or treacherous part. Mary 
might have become cynical if she had not had parents whom 
she honored, and a well of affectionate gratitude within her, 
which was all the fuller because she had learned to make no 
unreasonable claims. 

She sat to-night revolving, as she was wont, the scenes of 
the day, her lips often curling with amusement at the oddities 
to which her fancy added fresh drollery : people were so ridicu- 
lous with their illusions, carrying their fool's caps unawares, 
thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else's were 
transparent, making themselves exceptions to everything, as 
if when all the world looked yellow under a lamp they alone 
were rosy. Yet there were some illusions under Mary's eyes 
which were not quite comic to her. She was secretly con- 
vinced, though she had no other grounds than her close ob- 
servation of old Featherstone's nature, that in spite of his 
fondness for having the Vincys about him, they were as likely 
to be disappointed as any of the relations whom he kept at a 
distance. She had a good deal of disdain for Mrs. Vincy's 
evident alarm lest she and Fred should be alone together, but 
it did not hinder lior from thinking anxiously of the way in 
which Fred would be affected, if it should turn out that his 
uncle had left him as poor as ever. She could make a butt of 
Fred when he was present, but she did not enjoy his follies 
when he was absent. 

Yet she liked her thoughts : a vigorous young mind not 
overbalanced by passion, finds a good in making acquaintance 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 329 

with life, and watches its own powers with interest. Mary- 
had plenty of merriment witliin. 

Her thought was not veined by any solemnity or pathos 
about the old man on the bed : such sentiments are easier to af- 
fect than to feel about an aged creature whose life is not visibly 
anything but a remnant of vices. She had always seen the 
most disagreeable side of ^Ir. Featherstone : he was not proud 
of her, and she was only useful to him. To be anxious about 
a soul that is always snapping at you must be left to the 
saints of the earth ; and Mary was not one of them. She had 
never returned him a harsh word, and had waited on him faith- 
fully : that was her utmost. Old Featherstone himself was 
not in the least anxious about his soul, and had declined to 
see Mr. Tucker on the subject. 

To-night he had not once snapped, and for the first hour or 
two he lay remarkably still, until at last Mary heard him 
rattling his bunch of keys against the tin box which he always 
kept in the bed beside him. About three o'clock he said, 
with remarkable distinctness, " Missy, come here ! " 

;Mary obeyed, and found that he had already drawn the tin 
box from under the clothes, though he usually asked to have 
this done for him ; and he had selected the key. He now 
unlocked the box, and, drawing from it another key, looked 
straight at her with eyes that seemed to have recovered all 
their sharpness and said, " How many of 'em are in the 
house ? " 

^' You mean of your own relations, sir," said Mar}^, well 
used to the old man's way of speech. He nodded slightly and 
she went on. 

"Mr. Jonah Featherstone and young Cranch are sleeping 
here." 

" Oh ay, they stick, do they ? and the rest — they come every 
day, I'll warrant — Solomon and Jane, and all the young uns ? 
They come peeping, and counting and casting up ? " 

" Xot all of them every day. Mr. Solomon and Mrs. "Waule 
are here every day, and the others come often." 

The old man listened with a grimace while she spoke, and 
then said, relaxing his face, " The more fools they. You 



330 MTDDLEMARCH. 

hearken, missy. It 's three o'clock in the morning, and I 've 
got all my faculties as well as ever I had in my life. I know 
all my property, and where the money 's put out, and every- 
thing. And I 've made everything ready to change my mind, 
and do as I like at the last. Do you hear, missy ? I 've got 
my faculties." 

" Well, sir ? " said Mary, quietly. 

He now lowered his tone with an air of deeper cunning. 
" I 've made two wills, and I 'm going to burn one. Now you 
do as I tell you. This is the key of my iron chest, in the 
closet there. You push well at the side of the brass plate at 
the top, till it goes like a bolt : then you can put the key in 
the front lock and turn it. See and do that ; and take out the 
topmost paper — Last Will and Testament — big printed." 

" No, sir," said Mary, in a firm voice, " I cannot do that." 

*' Not do it ? I tell you, you must," said the old man, his 
voice beginning to shake under the shock of this resistance. 

"I cannot toucli j^our iron chest or your will. I must 
refuse to do anything that might lay me open to suspicion." 

" I tell you, I 'm in my right mind. Shan't I do as I like 
at the last ? I made two wills on purpose. Take the key, 
I say." 

*' No, sir, I will not," said Mary, more resolutely still. Her 
repulsion was getting stronger. 

" I tell you, there 's no time to lose." 

" I cannot help that, sir. I will not let the close of your 
life soil the beginning of mine. I will not touch your iron 
chest or your will." She moved to a little distance from the 
bedside. 

The old man paused with a blank stare for a little while, 
holding the one key erect on the ring ; then with an agitated 
jerk he began to work with his bon}^ left hand at emptying the 
tin box before him. 

'^ Miss}^," he began to say, hurriedly, " look here ! take the 
money — the notes and gold — look here — take it — you shall 
have it all — do as I tell you." 

He made an effort to stretch out the key towards her as far 
as possible, and Mary again retreated. 




Mary Garth refusks Mr. Featiferstone. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 331 

*'I will not touch your key or your money, sir. Pray don't 
ask me to do it again. If you do, I must go and call your 
brother." 

He let his hand fall, and for the first time in her life Mary 
saw old Peter Featherstone begin to cry childishly. She said, 
in as gentle a tone as she could command, " Pray put up your 
money, sir;" and then went away to her seat by the fire, hop- 
ing this would help to convince him that it was useless to say 
more. Presently he rallied and said eagerly — 

'^ Look here, then. Call the young chap. Call Fred Yincy." 

Mary's heart began to beat more quickly. Various ideas 
rushed through her mind as to what the burning of a second 
will might imply. She had to make a difficult decision in a 
hurry. 

"I will call him, if you will let me call Mr. Jonah and 
others with him." 

^'Nobody else, I say. The young chap. I shall do as I 
like." 

" Wait till broad daylight, sir, when every one is stirring. 
Or let me call Simmons now, to go and fetch the lawyer ? He 
can be here in less than two hours." 

" Lawyer ? What do I want with the lawyer ? Nobody 
shall know — I say, nobody shall know. I shall do as I like." 

"Let me call some one else, sir," said Mary, persuasively. 
She did not like her position — alone with the old man, who 
seemed to show a strange flaring of nervous energy which 
enabled him to speak again and again without falling into his 
usual cough ; yet she desired not to push unnecessarily the 
contradiction which agitated him. "Let me, pray, call some 
one else." 

"You let me alone, I say. Look here, missy. Take the 
money. You '11 never have the chance again. It 's pretty 
nigh two hundred — there's more in the box, and nobody 
knows how much there was. Take it and do as I tell you." 

Mary, standing by the fire, saw its red light falling on the 
old man, propped up on his pillows and bed-rest, with his 
bony hand holding out the key, and the money lying on the 
quilt before him. She never forgot that vision of a man 



332 MIDDLEMARCH. 

wanting to do as lie liked at the last. But the way in which 
he had put the offer of the money urged her to speak with 
harder resolution than ever. 

" It is of no use, sir. I will not do it. Put up your money. 
I will not touch your money. I will do anything else I can to 
comfort you ; but I will not touch your keys or your money." 

"Anything else — anything else!" said old Featherstone. 
with hoarse rage, which, as if in a nightmare, tried to be loud, 
and yet was only just audible. "I want nothing else. You 
come here — you come here." 

Mary approached him cautiously, knowing him too well. 
She saw him dropping his keys and trying to grasp his stick, 
while he looked at her like an aged hyena, the muscles of his 
face getting distorted with the effort of his hand. She paused 
at a safe distance. 

" Let me give you some cordial," she said, quietly, " and try 
to compose yourself. You will perhaps go to sleep. And 
to-morrow by daylight you can do as you like." 

He lifted the stick, in spite of her being beyond his reach, 
and threw it with a hard effort which was but impotence. It 
fell, slipping over the foot of the bed. Mary let it lie, and 
retreated to her chair by the fire. By-and-by she would go to 
him with the cordial. Fatigue would make him passive. It 
was getting towards the chillest moment of the morning, the 
fire had got low, and she could see through the chink between 
the moreen window-curtains the light whitened by the blind. 
Having put some wood on the fire and thrown a shawl over 
her, she sat down, hoping that Mr. Featherstone might now 
fall asleep. If she went near him the irritation might be kept 
up. He had said nothing after throwing the stick, but she 
had seen him taking his keys again and laying his right hand 
on the money. He did not put it up, however, and she thought 
that he was dropping off to sleep. 

But Mary herself began to be more agitated by the remem- 
brance of what she had gone through, than she had been 
by the reality — questioning those acts of hers which had 
come imperatively and excluded all question in the critical 
moment. 



WAITING FOR DEATH. 



333 



Presently the dry wood sent out a flame which illuminated 
every crevice, and Mary saw that the old man was lying 
quietly with his head turned a little on one side. She went 
towards him with inaudible steps, and thought that his face 
looked strangely motionless ; but the next moment the move- 
ment of the flame communicating itself to all objects made 
her uncertain. The violent beating of her heart rendered her 
perceptions so doubtful that even when she touched him and 
listened for his breathing, she could not trust her conclusions. 
She went to the window and gently propped aside the curtain 
and blind, so that the still light of the sky fell on the bed. 

The next moment she ran to the bell and rang it energeti- 
cally. In a very little while there was no longer any doubt 
that VqIgv Featherstone was dead, with his right hand clasp- 
ing the keys, and his left hand lying on the heap of notes and 
gold. 



BOOK IV. 

THEEE LOVE PROBLEMS. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

«' 1st. Gent. Such men as this are feathers, chips, and straws, 
Carry no weight, no force. 
2d Gent. But levity 

Is causal too, and makes the sum of weight. 
For power finds its place in lack of power ; 
Advance is cession, and the driven ship 
May run aground because the helmsman's thought 
Lacked force to balance opposites." 

It was on a morning of May that Peter Featherstone was 
buried. In the prosaic neighborhood of Middleniarch, May 
was not always warm and snnny, and on this particular morn- 
ing a chill wind was blowing the blossoms from the surround- 
ing gardens on to the green mounds of Lowick churchyard. 
Swiftly moving clouds only now and then allowed a gleam to 
light up any object, whether ugly or beautiful, that happened 
to stand within its golden shower. In the churchyard the 
objects were remarkably various, for there was a little country 
crowd waitiug to see the funeral. The news had spread that 
it was to be a "big burying; " the old gentleman had left 
written directions about everything and meant to have a fun- 
eral " beyond his betters." This was true ; for old Feather- 
stone had not been a Harpagon whose passions had all been 
devoured by the ever-lean and ever-hungry passion of saving, 
and who would drive a bargain with his undertaker before- 
hand. He loved money, but he also loved to spend it in 
gratifying his peculiar tastes, and perhaps he loved it best 
of all as a means of making others feel his power more or less 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 335 

uncomfortably. If any one will here contend that there must 
have been traits of goodness in old Featherstone, I will not 
presume to deny this ; but I must observe that goodness is of 
a modest nature, easily discouraged, and when much elbowed 
in early life by unabashed vices, is apt to retire into extreme 
privacy, so that it is more easily believed in by those wdio 
construct a selfish old gentleman theoretically, than by those 
who form the narrower judgments based on his personal 
acquaintance. In any case, he had been bent on having a 
handsome funeral, and on having persons " bid " to it who 
would rather have stayed at home. He had even desired that 
female relatives should follow him to the grave, and poor 
sister Martha had taken a difficult journey for this purpose 
from the Chalky Flats. She and Jane would have been alto- 
gether cheered (in a tearful manner) by this sign that a brother 
who disliked seeing them while he was living had been pros- 
pectively fond of their presence when he should have become 
a testator, if the sign had not been made equivocal by being 
extended to Mrs. Vincy, whose expense in handsome crape 
seemed to imply the most presumptuous hopes, aggravated 
by a bloom of complexion which told pretty plainly that she 
was not a blood-relation, but of that generally objectionable 
class called wife's kin. 

We are all of us imaginative in some form or other, for 
images are the brood of desire ; and poor old Featherstone, 
who laughed much at the way in which others cajoled them- 
selves, did not escape the fellowship of illusion. In writing 
the programme for his burial he certainly did not make clear 
to liimself that his pleasure in the little drama of which it 
formed a part was confined to anticipation. In chuckling 
over the vexations he could inflict by the rigid clutch of his 
dead hand, he inevitably mingled his consciousness with that 
livid stagnant presence, and so far as he was preoccupied with 
a future life, it was with one of gratification inside his coffin. 
Thus old Featherstone was imaginative, after his fashion. 

However, the three mourning-coaches were filled according 
to the written orders of the deceased. There were pall-bearers 
on horseback, wdth the richest scarfs and hatbands, and even 



336 MIDDLEMARCH. 

the uncler-bearers had trappings of woe which w^ere of a good 
well-priced quality. The black procession, when dismounted, 
looked the larger for the smallness of the churchyard ; the 
heavy human faces and the black draperies shivering in the 
wind seemed to tell of a world strangely incongruous with 
the lightly dropping blossoms and the gleams of sunshine on 
the daisies. The clergyman who met the procession was Mr. 
Cadwallader — also according to the request of Peter Feather- 
stone, prompted as usual by peculiar reasons. Having a 
contempt for curates, whom he always called understrappers, 
he was resolved to be buried by a beneficed clergyman. Mr. 
Casaubon was out of the question, not merely because he 
declined duty of this sort, but because Featherstone had an 
especial dislike to him as the rector of his own parish, who 
had a lieu on the land in the shape of tithe, also as the deliv- 
erer of morning sermons, which the old man, being in his pew 
and not at all sleepy, had been obliged to sit through with an 
inward snarl. He had an objection to a parson stuck up above 
his head preaching to him. But his relations with Mr. Cad- 
wallader had been of a different kind : the trout-stream which 
ran through Mr. Casaubon's land took its course through 
Featherstone's also, so that Mr. Cadwallader was a parson who 
had had to ask a favor instead of preaching. Moreover, he 
was one of the high gentry living four miles away from 
Lowick, and was thus exalted to an equal sky with the sheriff 
of the county and other dignities vaguely regarded as neces- 
sary to the system of things. There Avould be a satisfaction 
in being buried by Mr. Cadwallader, whose very name offered 
a fine opportunity for pronouncing wrongly if you liked. 

This distinction conferred on the Rector of Tipton and 
Freshitt was the reason why IMrs. Cadwallader made one of 
the group that watched old Featherstone's funeral from an 
upper window of the manor. She was not fond of visiting 
that house, but she liked, as she said, to see collections of 
strange animals such as there would be at this funeral ; and 
she had persuaded Sir James and the young Lady Chettam to 
drive the Rector and herself to Lowick in order that the visit 
might be altogether pleasant. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 337 

"I will go anywhere with you, Mrs. Cadwallader," Celia 
had said ; " but I don't like funerals." 

" Oh, my dear, when you have a clergyman in your family 
you must accommodate your tastes : I did that very early. 
When I married Humphrey I made up my mind to like ser- 
mons, and I set out by liking the end very much. That soon 
spread to the middle and the beginning, because I couldn't 
have the end without them." 

"No, to be sure not," said the Dowager Lady Chettam, with 
stately emphasis. 

Th5 upper window from which the funeral could be well 
seen was in the room occupied by Mr. Casaubon when he had 
been forbidden to work ; but he had resumed nearly his habit- 
iml style of life now in spite of warnings and prescriptions, 
and after politely welcoming Mrs. Cadwallader had slipped 
again into the library to chew a cud of erudite mistake about 
Cush and INFizraim. 

But for her visitors Dorothea too might have been shut up 
in the library, and would not have witnessed this scene of old 
Featherstone's funeral, which, aloof as it seemed to be from 
the tenor of her life, always afterwards came back to her at 
the touch of certain sensitive points in memory, just as the vis- 
ion of St. Peter's at Rome was inwoven with moods of despon- 
dency. Scenes which make vital changes in our neighbors' 
lot are but the background of our own, yet, like a particular 
aspect of the fields and trees, they become associated for us 
with the epochs of our own history, and make a part of that 
unity which lies in the selection of our keenest consciousness. 

The dream-like association of something alien and ill-under- 
stood with the deepest secrets of her experience seemed to 
mirror that sense of loneliness which was due to the very 
ardor of Dorothea's nature. The country gentry of old time 
lived in a rarefied social air : dotted apart on their stations up 
the mountain they looked down with imperfect discrimination 
on the belts of thicker life below. And Dorothea was not at 
ease in the perspective and chilliness of that height. 

" I shall not look any more," said Celia, after the train had 
entered the church, placing herself a little behind her hus- 
VOL. VII. 22 



338 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

band's elbow so that she could slyly touch his coat with her 
cheek. " I dare say Dodo likes it : she is fond of melancholy 
things and ugly people." 

"I am fond of knowing something about the people I live 
among," said Dorothea, who had been watching everything 
with the interest of a monk on his holiday tour. "It seems 
to me we know nothing of our neighbors, unless they are 
cottagers. One is constantly wondering what sort of lives 
other people lead, and how they take things. I am quite 
obliged to Mrs. Cadwallader for coming and calling me out of 
the library." 

" Quite right to feel obliged to me," said Mrs. Cadwallader. 
"Your rich Lowick farmers are as curious as any buffaloes or 
bisons, and I dare say you don't half see them at church. They 
are quite different from your uncle's tenants or Sir James's — 
monsters — farmers without landlords — one can't tell how 
to class them." 

" Most of these followers are not Lowick people," said Sir 
James ; " I suppose they are legatees from a distance, or from 
Middlemarch. Lovegood tells me the old fellow has left a 
good deal of money as well as land." 

" Think of that now ! when so many younger sons can't dine 
at their own expense," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "Ah," turn- 
ing round at the sound of the opening door, "here is Mr. 
Brooke. I felt that we were incomplete before, and here is 
the explanation. You are come to see this odd funeral, of 



course 



?" 



" Xo, I came to look after Casaubon — to see how he goes 
on, you know. And to bring a little news — a little news, my 
dear," said Mr. Brooke, nodding at Dorothea as she came 
towards him. " I looked into the library, and I saw Casau- 
bon over his books. I told him it would n't do : I said, ^ This 
will never do, you know : think of your wife, Casaubon.' And 
he promised me to come up. I did n't tell him my news : I 
said, he must come up." 

"Ah, now they are coming out of church," Mrs. Cadwallader 
exclaimed. " Dear me, what a wonderfully mixed set ! Mr. 
Lydgate as doctor, I suppose. But that is really a good- 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 339 

looking woman, and the fair young man must be her son. 
Who are they, Sir James, do you know ? " 

" I see Vincy, the Mayor of Middlemarch ; they are probably 
his wife and son," said Sir James, looking interrogatively at 
Mr. Brooke, who nodded and said — 

" Yes, a very decent family — a very good fellow is Vincy ; 
a credit to the manufacturing interest. You have seen him at 
my house, you know." 

"Ah, yes: one of your secret committee," said Mrs. Cad- 
wallader, provokingly. 

" A coursing fellow, though," said Sir James, with a fox- 
hunter's disgust. 

" And one of those who suck the life out of the wretched 
handloom weavers in Tipton and Freshitt. That is how his 
family look so fair and sleek," said Mrs. Cadwallader. " Those 
dark, purple-faced people are an excellent foil. Dear me, they 
are like a set of jugs ! Do look at Humphrey : one might 
fancy him an ugly archangel towering above them in his 
white surplice." 

" It 's a solemn thing, though, a funeral," said Mr. Brooke, 
" if you take it in that light, you know." 

"But I am not taking it in that light. I can't wear my 
solemnity too often, else it will go to rags. It was time the 
old man died, and none of these people are sorry." 

" How piteous ! " said Dorothea. " This funeral seems to 
me the most dismal thing I ever saw. It is a blot on the 
morning. I cannot bear to think that any one should die and 
leave no love behind." 

She was going to say more, but she saw her husband enter 
and seat himself a little in the background. The difference 
his presence made to her was not always a happy one : she 
felt that he often inwardly objected to her speech. 

" Positively," exclaimed Mrs. Cadwallader, " there is a new 
face come out from behind that broad man queerer than any 
of them: a little round head with bulging eyes — a sort of 
frog-face — do look. He must be of another blood, I think." 

" Let me see ! " said Celia, with awakened curiosity, stand-, 
ing behind Mrs. Cadwallader and leaning forward over her 



340 MIDDLEMARCH. 

head. " Oh, what an odd face ! " Then with a quick change 
to another sort of surprised expression, she added, '-Why, 
Dodo, you never told me that Mr. Ladislaw was come again ! " 

Dorothea felt a shock of alarm : every one noticed her sud- 
den paleness as she looked up immediately at her uncle, while 
Mr. Casaubon looked at her. 

"He came with me, you know ; he is ni}^ guest — puts up 
with me at the Grange," said Mr. Brooke, in his easiest tone, 
nodding at Dorothea, as if the announcement were just what 
she might have expected. "And we have brought the picture 
at the top of the carriage. I knew you would be pleased with 
the surprise, Casaubon. There you are to the very life — as 
Aquinas, you know. Quite the right sort of thing. And you 
will hear young Ladislaw talk about it. He talks uncommonly 
well — points out this, that, and the other — knows art and 
everything of that kind — companionable, you know — is up 
with you in any track — what I 've been wanting a long 
while." 

Mr. Casaubon bowed with cold politeness, mastering his 
irritation, but only so far as to be silent. He remembered 
Will's letter quite as well as Dorothea did ; he had noticed 
that it was not among the letters which had been reserved 
for him on his recovery, and secretly concluding that Doro- 
thea had sent word to Will not to come to Lowick, he had 
shrunk with proud sensitiveness from ever recurring to the 
subject. He now inferred that she had asked her uncle to 
invite Will to the Grange ; and she felt it impossible at that 
moment to enter into any explanation. 

Mrs. Cadwallader's eyes, diverted from the churchyard, saw 
a good deal of dumb show which was not so intelligible to her 
as she could have desired, and could not repress the question, 
"Who is Mr. Ladislaw ?-• 

"A young relative of Mr. Casaubon's," said Sir James, 
promptly. His good-nature often made him quick and clear- 
seeing in personal matters, and he had divined from Doro- 
thea's glance at her husband that there was some alarm in her 
mind. 

"A very nice young fellow — Casaubon has done everything 



I 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 341 

for him," explained Mr. Brooke. " He repays your expense 
in him, Casaubon," he went on, nodding encouragingly. " I 
hope he will stay with me a long while and we shall make 
something of my documents. I have plenty of ideas and facts, 
you know, and I can see he is just the man to put them into 
shape — remembers what the right quotations are, omne tulit 
punctumy and that sort of thing — gives subjects a kind of turn. 
I invited liim some time ago when you were ill, Casaubon ; 
Dorothea said you could n't have anybody in the house, you 
know, and she asked me to write." 

Poor Dorothea felt that every word of her uncle's was about 
as pleasant as a grain of sand in the eye to iMr. Casaubon. It 
would be altogether unfitting now to explain that she had not 
wished her uncle to invite Will Ladislaw. She could not in 
the least make clear to herself the reasons for her husband's 
dislike to his presence — a dislike painfully impressed on her 
by the scene in the library ; but she felt the unbecomingness 
of saying anything that might convey a notion of it to others. 
Mr. Casaubon, indeed, had not thoroughly represented those 
mixed reasons to himself ; irritated feeling with him, as with 
all of us, seeking rather for justification than for self-knowl- 
edge. P)ut he wished to repress outward signs, and only Doro- 
thea could discern the changes in her husband's face before he 
observed with more of dignified bending and sing-song than 
usual — 

*' You are exceedingly hospitable, my dear sir; and I owe 
you acknowledgments for exercising your hospitality towards 
a relative of mine." 

The funeral was ended now, and the churchyard was being 
cleared. 

"Now you can see him, Mrs. Cadwallader," said Celia. 
"He is just like a miniature of Mr. Casaubon's aunt that 
hangs in Dorothea's boudoir — quite nice-looking." 

" A very pretty sprig," said Mrs. Cadwallader, dryly. " \Yhat 
is your nephew to be, Mr. Casaubon ? " 

" Pardon me, he is not my nephew. He is my cousin." 

" Well, you know," interposed Mr. Brooke, " he is trying his 
wings. He is just the sort of young fellow to rise. I should 



342 MIDDLEMARCH. 

be glad to give him an opportunity. He would make a good 
secretary, now, like Hobbes, Milton, Swift — that sort of 
man." 

" I understand," said Mrs. Cadwallader. " One who can 
write speeches." 

" I '11 fetch him in now, eh, Casaubon ? " said Mr. Brooke. 
" He would n't come in till I had announced him, you know. 
And we '11 go down and look at the picture. There you are to 
the life : a deep subtle sort of thinker with his fore-finger on 
the page, while Saint Bonaventure or somebody else, rather 
fat and florid, is looking up at the Trinity. Everything is 
symbolical, you know — the higher style of art: I like that 
up to a certain point, but not too far — it's rather straining 
to keep up with, you know. But you are at home in that, 
Casaubon. And your painter's flesh is good — solidity, trans- 
parency, everything of that sort. I went into that a great 
deal at one time. However, I '11 go and fetch Ladislaw." 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

Non, je ne comprends pas de plus charmant plaisir 

Que de voir d'hcritiers une troupe affli,o;ee, 

Le maintien interdit, et la mine allongee, 

Lire un long testament ou pales, e'tonnes, 

On leur laisse un bonsoir avec un pied de nez. 

Pour voir au natural leur tristesse profonde, 

Je reviendrais, je erois, expres de I'autre monde. 

Regnard : Le. Lejataire Universel. 

When the animals entered the Ark in pairs, one may 
imagine that allied species made much private remark on 
each other, and were tempted think that so many forms 
feeding on the same store of fodder were eminently super- 
fluous, as tending to diminish the rations. (I fear the part 
played by the vultures on that occasion would be too painful 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 343 

for art to represent, those birds being disadvantageously 
naked about the gullet, and apparently without rites and 
ceremonies.) 

Tlie same sort of temptation befell the Christian Carnivora 
who formed Peter Featherstone's funeral procession ; most of 
them having their minds bent on a limited store which each 
would have liked to get the most of. The long-recognized 
blood-relations and connections by marriage made already a 
goodly number, which, multiplied by possibilities, presented 
a fine range for jealous conjecture and pathetic hopefulness. 
fJealousy of the Yincys had created a fellowship in hostility 
among all persons of the Featherstone blood, so that in the 
absence of any decided indication that one of themselves was to 
have more than the rest, the dread lest that long-legged Fred 
Vincy should have the land was necessarily dominant, though it 
left abundant feeling and leisure for vaguer jealousies, such as 
were entertained towards iVIary Garth. Solomon found time 
to reflect that Jonah was undeserving, and Jonah to abuse 
Solomon as greedy ; Jane, the elder sister, held that Martha's 
children ought not to expect so much as the young Waules ; 
and Martha, more lax on the subject of primogeniture, was 
sorry to think that Jane was so " having." These nearest of 
kin were naturally impressed with the unreasonableness of 
expectations in cousins and second cousins, and used their 
arithmetic in reckoning the large sums that small legacies 
might mount to, if there were too many of them. Two cousins 
were present to hear the will, and a second cousin besides Mr. 
Trumbull. This second cousin was a Middlemarch mercer of 
polite manners and superfluous aspirates. The two cousins 
were elderly men from Brassing, one of them conscious of 
claims on the score of inconvenient expense sustained b}^ him 
in presents of oysters and other eatables to his rich cousin 
Peter ; the other entirely saturnine, leaning his hands and 
chin on a stick, and conscious of claims based on no narrow 
performance but on merit generally : both blameless citizens 
of Brassing, who wished that Jonah Featherstone did not live 
there. The wit of a family is usually best received among 
strangers. 



344 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Why, Trumbull himself is pretty sure of five hundred — 
that you may depend, — I should n't wonder if my brother 
promised him," said Solomon, musing aloud with his sisters, 
the evening before the funeral. 

" Dear, dear ! " said poor sister Martha, whose imagination 
of hundreds had been habitually narrowed to the amount of 
her unpaid rent. 

But in the morning all the ordinary currents of conjecture 
were disturbed by the presence of a strange mourner who 
had plashed among them as if from the moon. This was the 
stranger described by Mrs. Cadwallader as frog-faced : a man 
perhaps about two or three and thirty, whose prominent eyes, 
thin-lipped, downward-curved mouth, and hair sleekly brushed 
away from a forehead that sank suddenly above the ridge of 
the eyebrows, certainly gave his face a batrachian unchange- 
ableness of expression. Here, clearly, was a new legatee ; 
else why was he bidden as a mourner ? Here were new pos- 
sibilities, raising a new uncertainty, which almost checked re- 
mark in the mourning-coaches. We are all humiliated by the 
sudden discovery of a fact which has existed very comfortably 
and perhaps been staring at us in private while we have been 
making up our world entirely without it. No one had seen 
this questionable stranger before except Mary Garth, and she 
knew nothing more of him than that he had twice been to 
Stone Court when Mr. Featherstone was down-stairs, and had 
sat alone with him for several hours. She had found an 
opportunity of mentioning this to her father, and perhaps 
Caleb's were the only eyes, except the lawyer's, which ex- 
amined the stranger Vv^itli more of inquiry than of disgust or 
suspicion. Caleb Garth, having little expectation and less 
cupidity, was interested in the verification of his own guesses, 
and the calmness with which he half smilingly rubbed his 
chin and shot intelligent glances much as if he were valuing 
a tree, made a fine contrast with the alarm or scorn visible 
in other faces when the unknown mourner, whose name was 
understood to be Kigg, entered the wainscoted parlor and 
took his seat near the door to make part of the audience when 
the will should be read. Just then Mr. Solomon and Mr. Jonah 



THREE LOVE PEOBLEMS. 345 

were gone up-stairs with the lawyer to search for the will ; 
and Mrs. Waule, seeing two vacant seats between herself and 
Mr. Borthrop Trumbull, had the spirit to move next to that 
great authority, who was handling his watch-seals and trim- 
ming his outlines with a determination not to show anything 
so compromising to a man of ability as wonder or surprise. 

" I suppose you know everything about what my poor broth- 
er 's done, Mr. Trumbull," said Mrs. AVaule, in the lowest of 
her woolly tones, while she turned her crape-shadow^ed bonnet 
towards ]\Ir. Trumbull's ear. 

''My good lady, whatever was told me was told in con- 
fidence," said the auctioneer, putting his hand up to screen 
that secret. 

" Them who 've made sure of their good-luck may be dis- 
appointed 3'et," ^[rs. Waule continued, finding some relief in 
this communication. 

"Hopes are often delusive," said Mr. Trumbull, still in 
confidence. 

" Ah ! " said Mrs. Waule, looking across at the Vincys, and 
then moving back to the side of her sister Martha. 

" It 's wonderful how^ close poor Peter was," she said, in the 
same undertones. "We none of us know what he might have 
had on his mind. I only hope and trust he was n't a worse 
liver than we think of, Martha." 

Poor Mrs. Cranch was bulky, and, breathing asthmatically, 
had the additional motive for making her remarks unexception- 
able and giving them a general bearing, that even her whispers 
were loud and liable to sudden bursts like those of a deranged 
barrel-organ. 

" I never teas covetious, Jane," she replied ; " but I have six 
children and have buried three, and I did n't marry into money. 
The eldest, that sits there, is but nineteen — so 1 leave you to 
guess. And stock always short, and land most awkward. But 
if ever I 've begged and prayed, it 's been to God above ; though 
where there 's one brother a bachelor and the other childless 
after twice marrying — anybody might think ! " 

Meanwhile, Mr. Viiicy had glanced at the passive face of 
Mr. Rigg, and had taken out his snuff-box and tapped it, but 



346 MIDDLEMARCH. 

had put it back again unopened as an indulgence which, 
however clarifying to the judgment, was unsuited to the 
occasion. " I should n't wonder if Featherstone had better 
feelings than any of us gave him credit for," he observed, in 
the ear of his wife. " Ihis funeral shows a thought about 
everybody : it looks well when a man wants to be followed 
by his friends, and if they are humble, not to be ashamed of 
them. I should be all the better pleased if he 'd left lots of 
small legacies. They may be uncommonly useful to fellows 
in a small way." 

^'Everj^thing is as handsome as could be, crape and silk and 
everything," said Mrs. Vincy, contentedly. 

But I am sorry to say that Fred was under some difficulty 
in repressing a laugh, which would have been more unsuitable 
than his father's snuff-box. Fred had overheard Mr. Jonah 
suggesting something about a "love-child," and with this 
thought in his mind, the stranger's face, which happened to 
be opposite him, affected him too ludicrously. Mary Garth, 
discerning his distress in the twitchings of his mouth, and his 
recourse to a cough, came cleverly to his rescue by asking hira 
to change seats with her, so that he got into a shadowy corner. 
Fred was feeling as good-naturedly as possible towards every- 
body, including Eigg ; and having some relenting towards all 
these people who w^ere less lucky than he was aware of being 
himself, he would not for the world have behaved amiss ; still, 
it was particularly easy to laugh. 

But the entrance of the lawyer and the two brothers drew 
every one's attention. 

The lawyer was Mr. Standish, and he had come to Stone 
Court this morning believing that he knew thoroughly well 
who would be pleased and Avho disappointed before the day 
was over. The will he expected to read was the last of three 
which he had drawn up for Mr. Featherstone. Mr. Standish 
was not a man who varied his manners : he behaved with the 
same deep-voiced, off-hand civility to everybod}^, as if he saw 
no difference in them, and talked chiefly of the hay-crop, which 
would be " very fine, by God ! " of the last bulletins concern- 
ing the King, and of the Duke of Clarence, who was a sailor 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 347 

every inch of him, and just the man to rule over an island 
like Britain. 

Old Featherstone had often reflected as he sat looking at 
the fire that Standish would be surprised some day : it is true 
that if he had done as he liked at the last, and burnt the will 
drawn up by another lawyer, he would not have secured that 
minor end ; still he had had his pleasure in ruminating on it. 
And certainly Mr. Standish was surprised, but not at all sorry ; 
on the contrary, he rather enjoyed the zest of a little curiosity 
in his own mind, which the discovery of a second will added 
to the prospective amazement on the part of the Featherstone 
family. 

As to the sentiments of Solomon and Jonah, they were held 
in utter suspense : it seemed to them that the old will Avould 
have a certain validity, and that there might be such an inter- 
lacement of poor Peter's former and latter intentions as to 
create endless "lawing" before anybody came by their own — 
an inconvenience which would have at least the advantage of 
going all round. Hence the brothers showed a thoroughly 
neutral gravity as they re-entered with Mr. Standish; but 
Solomon took out his white handkerchief again with a sense 
that in any case there would be affecting passages, and crying 
at funerals, however dry, was customarily served up in lawn. 

Perhaps the person who felt the most throbbing excitement 
at tliis moment was ]\Lary Garth, in the consciousness that it 
was she who had virtually determined the production of this 
second will, which might have momentous effects on the lot of 
some persons present. No soul excej)t herself knew what had 
passed on that final night. 

''The will I hold in my hand," said Mr. Standish, who, 
seated at the table in the middle of the room, took his time 
about everything, including the coughs with which he showed 
a disposition to clear his voice, " was drawn up by myself and 
executed by our deceased friend on the 9th of August, 1825. 
But I find that there is a subsequent instrument hitherto un- 
known to me, bearing date the 20th of July, 1826, hardly a 
year later than the previous one. And there is farther, I see " 
— Mr. Standish was cautiously travelling over the document 



348 MIDDLEMARCH. 

with his spectacles — "a codicil to this latter will, bearing 
date March 1, 1828." 

"Dear, dear!" said sister Martha, not meaning to be audi- 
ble, but driven to some articulation under this pressure of 
dates. 

" I shall begin by reading the earlier will," continued Mr. 
Standish, " since such, as appears by his not having destroyed 
the document, was the intention of deceased." 

The preamble was felt to be rather long, and several besides 
Solomon shook their heads pathetically, looking on the 
ground : all eyes avoided meeting other eyes, and were chiefly 
fixed either on the spots in the table-cloth or on Mr. Standish's 
bald head ; excepting Mary Garth's. When all the rest were 
trying to look nowhere in particular, it was safe for her to look 
at them. And at the sound of the first " give and bequeath " 
she could see all complexions changing subtly, as if some faint 
vibration were passing through them, save that of Mr. Rigg. 
He sat in unaltered calm, and, in fact, the company, preoccu- 
pied with more important i)roblems, and with the complication 
of listening to bequests which might or might not be revoked, 
had ceased to think of him. Fred blushed, and Mr. Vincy 
found it impossible to do without his snuff-box in his hand, 
though he kept it closed. 

The small bequests came first, and even the recollection that 
there was another will and that poor Peter might have thought 
better of it, could not quell the rising disgust and indignation. 
One likes to be done well by in every tense, past, present, and 
future. And here was Peter capable five years ago of leaving 
only two hundred apiece to his own brothers and sisters, and 
only a hundred apiece to his own nephews and nieces : the 
Garths were not mentioned, but Mrs. Vincy and Rosamond 
were each to have a hundred. Mr. Trumbull was to have the 
gold-headed cane and fifty pounds ; the otlier second cousins 
and the cousins present were each to have the like handsome 
sum, which, as the saturnine cousin observed, was a sort of 
legacy that left a man nowhere ; and there was much more of 
such offensive dribbling in favor of persons not present — 
problematical, and, it was to be feared, low connections. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 349 

Altogether, reckoning hastily, here were about three thousand 
disposed of. Where then had Peter meant the rest of the 
money to go — and where the land ? and what was revoked 
and what not revoked — and was the revocation for better or 
for worse ? All emotion must be conditional, and might turn 
out to be the wrong thing. The men were strong enough to 
bear up and keep quiet under this confused suspense ; some 
letting their lower lip fall, others pursing it up, according to 
the habit of their muscles. But Jane and Martha sank under 
the rush of questions, and began to cry ; poor Mrs. Cranch 
being half moved with the consolation of getting any hundreds 
at all without working for them, and half aware that her share 
was scanty ; whereas Mrs. Waule's mind was entirely flooded 
with the sense of being an own sister and getting little, while 
somebody else was to have much. The general expectation 
now was that the "much" would fall to Fred Vincy, but the 
Vincys themselves were surprised when ten thousand pounds 
in specified investments were declared to be bequeathed to 
him : — was the land coming too? Fred bit his lips: it was 
difficult to help smiling, and Mrs. Vincy felt herself the hap- 
piest of women — possible revocation shrinking out of sight in 
this dazzling vision. 

There was still a residue of personal property as well as the 
land, but the whole was left to one person, and that person 
was — O possibilities ! expectations founded on the favor 
of '^ close " old gentlemen ! endless vocatives that would 
still leave expression slipping helpless from the measurement 
of mortal folly ! — that residuary legatee was Joshua Rigg, 
who was also sole executor, and who was to take thenceforth 
the name of Featherstone. 

There w^as a rustling which seemed like a shudder running 
round the room. Every one stared afresh at Mr. Rigg, who 
apparently experienced no surprise. 

" A most singular testamentary disposition ! " exclaimed 
Mr. Trumbull, preferring for once that he should be consid- 
ered ignorant in the past. '^ But there is a second will — 
there is a further document. We have not yet heard the final 
wishes of the deceased." 



350 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Mary Garth was feeling that what they had yet to hear 
were not the final wishes. The second will revoked every- 
thing except the legacies to the low persons before mentioned 
(some alterations in these being the occasion of the codicil), 
and the bequest of all the land lying in Lowick parish, with 
all the stock and household furniture, to Joshua Rigg. The 
residue of the property was to be devoted to the erection and 
endowment of almshouses for old men, to be called Feather- 
stone's Aims-Houses, and to be built on a piece of land near 
Middlemarch already bought for the purpose by the testator, 
he wishing — so the document declared — to please God Al- 
mighty. Nobody present had a farthing ; but Mr. Trumbull 
had the gold-headed cane. It took some time for the company 
to recover the power of expression. Mary dared not look at 
Fred. 

Mr. Vincy was the first to speak — after using his snuff-box 
energetically — and he spoke with loud indignation. ''The 
most unaccountable will I ever heard ! I should say he was 
not in his right mind when he made it. I should say this 
last will was void," added Mr. Vincy, feeling that this expres- 
sion put the thing in the true light. " Eh, Standish ? " 

'•'Our deceased friend always knew what he was about, 
I think," said Mr, Standish. "■ Everything is quite regular. 
Here is a letter from Clemmens of Brassing tied with the will. 
He drew it up. A very respectable solicitor." 

"I never noticed any alienation of mind — any aberration 
of intellect in the late Mr. Featherstone," said Borthrop Trum- 
bull, "but I call this will eccentric. I was always willingly 
of service to the old soul ; and he intimated pretty plainly a 
sense of obligation which would show itself in his will. The 
gold-headed cane is farcical considered as an acknowledgment 
to me ; but happily I am above mercenary considerations." 

" There 's nothing very surprising in the matter that I can 
see," said Caleb Garth. ''Anybody might have had more rea- 
son for woiidering if the will had been what you might expect 
from an open-minded straightforward man. For my part, I 
wish there was no such thing as a will." 

"That's a strange sentiment to come from a Christian man, 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 351 

by God ! " said the lawyer. " I should like to know how you 
will back that up, Garth ! " 

" Oh," said Caleb, leaning forward, adjusting his finger-tips 
with nicety and looking meditatively on the ground. It 
always seemed to him that words were the hardest part of 
" business.'*' 

But here Mr. Jonah Featherstone made himself heard. 
" Well, he always was a fine hypocrite, was my brother Peter. 
But this will cuts out everything. If I 'd known, a wagon and 
six horses should n't have drawn me from Brassing. I '11 put 
a white hat and drab coat on to-morrow." 

"Dear, dear," wept Mrs. Cranch, "aud we've been at the 
expense of travelling, and that poor lad sitting idle here so 
long ! It 's the first time I ever heard my brother Peter was so 
wishful to please God Almighty ; but if I was to be struck 
helpless I must say it's hard — I can think no other." 

" It '11 do him no good where he's gone, that 's my belief," 
said Solomon, with a bitterness which was remarkably gen- 
uine, though his tone could not help being sly. "Peter was a 
bad liver, and almshouses won't cover it, when he's had the 
impudence to show it at the last." 

"And all the while had got his own lawful family — broth- 
ers and sisters and nephews and nieces — and has sat in church 
with 'em whenever he thought well to come," said Mrs. Waule. 
" And might have left his property so respectable, to them 
that 's never been used to extravagance or unsteadiness in no 
manner of way — and not so poor but what they could have 
saved every penny and made more of it. And me — the 
trouble I've been at, times and times, to come here and be 
sisterly — and him with things on his mind all the while that 
might make anybody's flesh creep. But if the Almighty 's 
allowed it, he means to punish him for it. Brother Solomon, 
I shall be going, if you '11 drive me." 

" I 've no desire to put my foot on the premises again," said 
Solomon. "' I 've got land of my own and property of my own 
to will away." 

" It 's a poor tale how luck goes in the world," said Jonah. 
" It never answers to have a bit of spirit in you. You 'd 



352 MIDDLEMARCH. 

better be a dog in the manger. But those above ground might 
learn a lesson. One fool's will is enough in a family." 

" There 's more ways than one of being a fool," said Solomon. 
" I shan't leave my money to be poured down the sink, and I 
shan't leave it to foundlings from Africay. I like Feather- 
stones that were brewed such, and not turned Featherstones 
with sticking the name on 'em." 

Solomon addressed these remarks in a loud aside to Mrs. 
Waule as he rose to accompany her. Brother Jonah felt him- 
self capable of much more stinging wit than this, but he re- 
flected that there was no use in offending the new proprietor 
of Stone Court, until you were certain that he was quite with- 
out intentions of hospitality towards witty men whose name 
he was about to bear. 

Mr. Joshua Rigg, in fact, appeared to trouble himself little 
about any innuendoes, but showed a notable change of manner, 
walking coolly up to Mr. Standish and putting business ques- 
tions with much coolness. He had a high chirping voice and 
a vile accent. Fred, whom he no longer moved to laughter, 
thought him the lowest monster he had ever seen. But Fred 
was feeling rather sick. The Middlemarch mercer waited for 
an opportunity of engaging Mr. Bigg in conversation : there 
w^as no knowing how many pairs of legs the new proprietor 
might require hose for, and profits were more to be relied on 
than legacies. Also, the mercer, as a second cousin, was dis- 
passionate enough to feel curiosity. 

Mr. Yincy, after his one outburst, had remained proudly 
silent, though too much preoccupied with unpleasant feelings 
to think of moving, till he observed that his wife had gone to 
Fred's side and was crying silently while she held her darling's 
hand. He rose immediately, and turning his back on the com- 
pany while he said to her in an undertone, — ''Don't give way, 
Lucy ; don't make a fool of yourself, my dear, before these 
people," he added in his usual loud voice — " Go and order the 
phaeton, Fred ; I have no time to waste." 

Mary Garth had before this been getting ready to go home 
with her father. She met Fred in the hall, and now for 
the first time had the courage to look at him. He had that 



THREE LOVE PliOBLEMS. 353 

withered sort of paleness which will sometimes come on young 
faces, and his hand was very cold when she shook it. Mary 
too was agitated ; she was conscious that fatally, without will 
of her own, she had perhaps made a great difference to Fred's 
lot. 

" Good-by," she said, with affectionate sadness. " Be brave, 
Fred. I do believe you are better without the money. What 
was the good of it to Mr. Featherstone ? " 

"That's all very fine," said Fred, pettishly. "What is a 
fellow to do ? I 7nust go into the Church now." (He knew 
that this would vex Mary : very well ; then she must tell him 
what else he could do.) " And I thought I should be able to 
pay your father at once and make everything right. And you 
have not even a hundred pounds left you. What shall you do 
now, jMary ? " 

" Take another situation, of course, as soon as I can get one. 
My father has enough to do to keep the rest, without me. 
Good-by." 

In a very short time Stone Court was cleared of well-brewed 
Featherstones and other long-accustomed visitors. Another 
stranger had been brought to settle in the neighborhood of 
Middlemarch, but in the case of Mr. Rigg Featherstone there 
was more discontent with immediate visible consequences than 
speculation as to the effect which his presence might have in 
the future. No soul was prophetic enough to have any fore- 
boding as to what might appear on the trial of Joshua Rigg. 

And here I am naturally led to reflect on the means of 
elevating a low subject. Historical parallels are remarkably 
efficient in this way. The chief objection to them is, that the 
diligent narrator may lack space, or (what is often the same 
thing) may not be able to think of them with any degree of 
particularit}^, though he may have a philosophical confidence 
that if known they would be illustrative. It seems an easier 
and shorter way to dignity, to observe that — since there never 
was a true story which could not be told in parables, where you 
might put a monkey for a margrave, and vice versa — whatever 
has been or is to be narrated by me about low people, may be 
ennobled by being considered a parable ; so that if any bad 
VOL. VII. 23 



354 MIDDLEMAECH. 

habits and ugly consequences are brought into view, the reader 
may have the relief of regarding them as not more than figura- 
tively ungenteel, and may feel himself virtually in company 
with persons of some style. Thus while I tell the truth about 
loobies, my reader's imagination need not be entirely excluded 
from an occupation with lords ; and the petty sums which any 
bankrupt of high standing would be sorry to retire upon, may 
be lifted to the level of high commercial transactions by the 
inexpensive addition of proportional ciphers. 

As to any provincial history in which the agents are all of 
high moral rank, that must be of a date long posterior to the 
first Eeform Bill, and Peter Featherstone, you perceive, was 
dead and buried some months before Lord Grey came into 
office. 



CHAPTEK XXXVI. 



These great aspiring spirits, that should be wise : 

For being the nature of great spirits to love 
To be where they may be most eminent ; 
They, rating of themselves so farre above 
Us in conceit, with whom they do frequent, 
Imagine how we wonder and esteeme 
All that they do or say ; which makes them strive 
To make our admiration more extreme, 
Which they suppose they cannot, 'less they give 
Notice of their extreme and highest thoughts. 

Daniel: Tragedy of Philof as. 

Mr. Vincy went home from the reading of the will with 
his point of view considerably changed in relation to many 
subjects. He w^as an open-minded man, but given to indirect 
modes of expressing himself : when he was disappointed in a 
market for his silk braids, he swore at the groom ; when his 
brother-in-law Bulstrode had vexed him, he made cutting 
remarks on Methodism ; and it was now apparent that he 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 365 

regarded Fred's idleness with a sudden increase of severity, 
by his throwing an embroidered cap out of the smoking-room 
on to the hall-floor. 

" Well, sir," he observed, when that young gentleman was 
moving off to bed, '• I hope you 've made up your mind now to 
go up next term and pass your examination. I 've tak«n my 
resolution, so I advise you to lose no time in taking yours." 

Fred made no answer : he was too utterly depressed. 
Twenty-four hours ago he had thought that instead of needing 
to know what he should do, he should by this time know that 
he needed to do nothing : that he should hunt in pink, have 
a first-rate hunter, ride to cover on a fine hack, and be gener- 
all)^ respected for doing so ; moreover, that he should be able 
at once to pay Mr. Garth, and that Mary could no longer have 
any reason for not marrying him. And all this was to have 
come without study or other inconvenience, purely by the 
favor of providence in the shape of an old gentleman's caprice. 
But now, at the end of the twenty-four hours, all those firm 
expectations were upset. It was " rather hard lines " that 
while he was smarting under this disappointment he should 
be treated as if he could have helped it. But he went away 
silently and his mother pleaded for him. 

^' Don't be hard on the poor boy, Vincy. He'll turn out 
well yet, though that wicked man has deceived him. I feel 
as sure as I sit here, Fred will turn out well — else why was 
he brought back from the brink of the grave ? And I call 
it a robbery : it was like giving him the land, to promise it ; 
and what is promising, if making everybody believe is not 
promising ? And you see he did leave him ten thousand 
pounds, and then took it away again." 

" Took it away again ! " said Mr. Vincy, pettishly. " I tell 
you the lad 's an unlucky lad, Lucy. And you 've always 
spoiled him." 

" Well, Vincy, he was my first, and you made a fine fuss 
with him when he came. You were as proud as proud," said 
Mrs. Vincy, easily recovering her cheerful smile. 

" Who knows what babies will turn to ? I was fool enough, 
I dare say," said the husband — more mildly, however. 



356 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

''But who has handsomer, better children than ours ? Fred 
is far beyond other people's sons : you may hear it in his 
speech, that he has kept college company. And Rosamond — 
where is there a girl like her ? She might stand beside any 
lady in the land, and only look the better for it. You see — 
Mr. Lydgate has kept the highest company and been every- 
where, and he fell in love with her at once. Not but what I 
could have wished Rosamond had not engaged herself. She 
might have met somebody on a visit who would have been a 
far better match ; I mean at her schoolfellow Miss Wil- 
loughby's. There are relations in that family quite as high 
as Mr. Lyd gate's." 

" Damn relations ! " said Mr. Vincy ; " I 've had enough of 
them. I don't want a son-in-law who has got nothing but his 
relations to recommend him." 

'' Why, my dear," said Mrs. Vincy, "you seemed as pleased 
as could be about it. It 's true, I was n't at home ; but Rosa- 
mond told me you had n't a word to say against the engage- 
ment. And she has begun to buy in the best linen and 
cambric for her underclothing." 

" Not by my will," said Mr. Vincy. ^' I shall have enough 
to do this year, with an idle scamp of a son, without paying 
for wedding-clothes. The times are as tight as can be ; every- 
body is being ruined ; and I don't believe Lydgate has got a 
farthing. I shan't give my consent to their marrying. Let 
'em wait, as their elders have done before 'em." 

" Rosamond will take it hard, Vincy, and you know you 
never could bear to cross her." 

"Yes, I could. The sooner the engagement 's off, the better. 
I don't believe he '11 ever make an income, the way he goes on. 
He makes enemies ; that 's all I hear of his making." 

"But he stands very high with Mr. Bulstrode, my dear. 
The marriage would please him, I should think," 

" Please the deuce ! " said Mr. Vincy. " Bulstrode won't 
pay for their keep. And if Lydgate thinks I'm going to give 
money for them to set up housekeeping, he 's mistaken, tliat 's 
all. I expect I shall have to put down my horses soon. You 'd 
better tell Rosy what I say." 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 357 

This was a not infrequent procedure with Mr. Viucy — to 
be rash in jovial assent, and on becoming subsequently con- 
scious that he had been rasli, to employ others in making the 
offensive retractation. However, Mrs. Vincy, who never will- 
ingly opposed her husband, lost no time the next morning in 
letting Eosamond know what he had said. Eosamond, ex- 
amining some muslin-work, listened in silence, and at the end 
gave a certain turn of her graceful neck, of which only long 
experience could teach you that it meant perfect obstinacy. 

'' What do you say, my dear ? " said her mother, with 
affectionate deference. 

" Papa does not mean anything of the kind," said Eosa- 
mond, quite calmly. '' He has always said that he wished me 
to marry the man I loved. And I shall marry jNIr. Lydgate. 
It is seven weeks now since papa gave his consent. And I 
hope we shall have Mrs. Bretton's house." 

" Well, my dear, I shall leave you to manage your papa. 
You always do manage everybody. But if we ever do go and 
get damask, Sadler's is the place — far better than Hopkins's. 
;Mrs. Bretton's is very large, though : I should love you to 
have such a house ; but it will take a great deal of furniture — 
carpeting and everything, besides plate and glass. And you 
hear, yonr papa says he will give no moiie}'. Do you think 
Mr. Lydgate expects it ? " 

" You cannot imagine that I should ask him, mamma. Of 
course he understands his own affairs." 

" But he may have been looking for money, my dear, and 
we all thought of your having a pretty legacy as well as "Fred ; 
— and now everything is so dreadful — there 's no pleasure 
in thinking of anything, with that poor boy disappointed as 
he is." 

" That has nothing to do with my marriage, mamma. Fred 
must leave off being idle. I. am going up-stairs to take this 
work to Miss Morgan : she does the open-hemming very well. 
Mary Garth might do some work for me now, I should think. 
Her sewing is exquisite ; it is the nicest thing I know about 
Mary. I should so like to have all my cambric frilling double- 
hemmed. And it takes a long time." 



358 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Mrs. Vincy's belief that Rosamond could manage her papa 
was well founded. Apart from his dinners and his coursing, 
Mr. Vincy, blustering as he was, had as little of his own way 
as if he had been a prime minister : the force of circumstances 
was easily too much for him, as it is for most pleasure-loving 
florid men ; and the circumstance called Rosamond was par- 
ticularly forcible by means of that mild persistence which, as 
we know, enables a white soft living substance to make its 
way in spite of opposing rock. Papa was not a rock : he had 
no other fixity than that fixity of alternating impulses some- 
times called habit, and this was altogether unfavorable to his 
taking the only decisive line of conduct in relation to his 
daughter's engagement — namely, to inquire thoroughly into 
Lydgate's circumstances, declare his own inability to furnish 
money, and forbid alike either a speedy marriage or an en- 
gagement which must be too lengthy. That seems very simple 
and easy in the statement ; but a disagreeable resolve formed 
in the chill hours of the morning had as many conditions 
against it as the early frost, and rarely persisted under the 
warming influences of the day. The indirect though emphatic 
expression of opinion to which Mr. Vincy was prone suffered 
much restraint in this case : Lydgate was a proud man towards 
whom innuendoes were obviously unsafe, and throwing his 
hat on the floor was out of the question. Mr. Vincy was a 
little in awe of him, a little vain that he wanted to marry 
Rosamond, a little indis^wsed to raise a question of money in 
which his own position was not advantageous, a little afraid 
of being worsted in dialogue with a man better educated and 
more highly bred than himself, and a little afraid of doing 
what his daughter would not like. The part Mr. Vincy pre- 
ferred playing was that of the generous host whom nobody 
criticises. In the earlier half of the day there was business to 
hinder any formal communication of an adverse resolve; in 
the later there was dinner, wine, whist, and general satisfac- 
tion. And in the mean while the hours were each leaving 
their little deposit and gradually forming the final reason for 
inaction, namely, that action was too late. 

The accepted lover spent most of his evenings in Lowick 



THREE LOVE PKOBLEMS. 359 

Gate, and a love-making not at all dependent on money- 
advances from fatliers-in-law, or prospective income from a 
profession, went on flourishingly under ^Mr. Vincy's own eyes. 
Young love-making — that gossamer web! Even the points 
it clings to — the things whence its subtle interlacings are 
swung — are scarcely perceptible : momentary touches of finger- 
tips, meetings of rays from blue and dark orbs, unfinished 
phrases, lightest changes of cheek and lip, faintest tremors. 
The web itself is made of spontaneous beliefs and indefinable 
joys, yearnings of one life towards another, visions of com- 
pleteness, indefinite trust. And Lydgate fell to spinning that 
web from his inward self with wonderful rapidity, in spite of 
experience supposed to be finished off with the drama of Laure 
— in spite too of medicine and biology ; for the inspection of 
macerated muscle or of eyes presented in a dish (like Santa 
Lucia's), and other incidents of scientific inquiry, are observed 
to be less incompatible with poetic love than a native dulness 
or a lively addiction to the lowest prose. As for Kosamond, 
she was in the water-lily's expanding wonderment at its own 
fuller life, and she too was spinning industriously at the mutual 
web. All this went on in the corner of the drawing-room 
where the piano stood, and subtle as it was, the light made it 
a sort of rainbow visible to many observers besides Mr. Fare- 
brother. The certainty that Miss Vincy and Mr. Lydgate 
were engaged became general in Middlemarch without the 
aid of formal announcement. 

Aunt Bulstrode was again stirred to anxiety; but this time 
she addressed herself to her brother, going to the warehouse 
expressly to avoid Mrs. Vincy's volatility. His replies were 
not satisfactory. 

" Walter, you never mean to tell me that you have allowed 
all this to go on without inquiry into Mr. Lydgate's pros- 
pects ? " said Mrs. Bulstrode, opening her eyes with wider 
gravity at her brother, who was in his peevish warehouse 
humor. "Think of this girl brought up in luxury — in too 
worldly a way, I am sorry to say — what will she do on a 
small income ? " 

" Oh, confound it, Harriet ! what can I do when men come 



360 MIDDLEMARCH. 

into the town without any asking of mine ? Did you shut 
your house up against Lydgate ? Bulstrode has pushed him 
forward more than anybody. I never made any fuss about the 
young fellow. You should go and talk to your husband about 
it, not me." 

'' Well, really, Walter, how can Mr. Bulstrode be to blame ? 
I am sure he did not wish for the engagement." 

" Oh, if Bulstrode had not taken him by the hand, I should 
never have invited him." 

^' But you called him in to attend on Fred, and I am sure 
that was a mercy," said Mrs. Bulstrode, losing her clew in the 
intricacies of the subject. 

" I don't know about mercy," said Mr. Vincy, testily, " I 
know I am worried more than I like with my family. I was 
a good brother to you, Harriet, before you married Bulstrode, 
and I must say he does n't always show that friendly spirit 
towards your family that might have been expected of him." 
Mr. Vincy was very little like a Jesuit, but no accomplished 
Jesuit could have turned a question more adroitly. Harriet 
had to defend her husband instead of blaming her brother, and 
the conversation ended at a point as far from the beginning 
as some recent sparring between the brothers-in-law at a vestry 
meeting. 

Mrs. Bulstrode did not repeat her brother's complaints to 
her husband, but in the evening she spoke to him of Lydgate 
and Eosamond. He did not share her warm interest, however ; 
and only spoke with resignation of the risks attendant on 
the beginning of medical practice and the desirability of 
prudence. 

" I am sure we are bound to pray for that thoughtless girl 
— brought up as she has been," said Mrs. Bulstrode, wishing 
to rouse her husband's feelings. 

" Truly, my dear," said Mr. Bulstrode, assentingly. " Those 
who are not of this world can do little else to arrest the errors 
of the obstinately worldly. That is what we must accustom 
ourselves to recognize with regard to your brother's family. 
I could have wished that Mr. Lydgate had not entered into 
such a union ; but my relations with him are limited to that 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 361 

use of liis gifts for God's purposes which is taught us by the 
divine government under each dispensation." 

Mrs. Bu] strode said no more, attributing some dissatisfaction 
which she felt to her own want of spirituality. She believed 
that her husband was one of those men whose memoirs should 
be written when they died. 

As to Lydgate himself, having been accepted, he was pre- 
pared to accept all the consequences which he believed him- 
self to foresee with perfect clearness. Of course he must be 
married in a year — perhaps even in half a year. This was 
not what he had intended ; but other schemes would not be 
hindered: they would simply adjust themselves anew. Mar- 
riage, of course, must be prepared for in the usual way. A 
house must be taken instead of the rooms he at present occu- 
pied ; -and Lydgate, having heard Eosamond speak with ad- 
miration of old Mrs. Bretton's house (situated in Lowick 
Gate), took notice when it fell vacant after the old lady's 
death, and immediately entered into treaty for it. 

He did this in an episodic way, very much as he gave orders 
to his tailor for every requisite of perfect dress, without any 
notion of being extravagant. On the contrary, he would have 
despised any ostentation of expense ; his profession had famil- 
iarized him with all grades of poverty, and he cared much for 
those who suffered hardships. He would have behaved per- 
fectly at a table where the sauce was served in a jug with the 
handle off, and he would have remembered nothing about a 
grand dinner except that a man was there who talked well. 
But it had never occurred to him that he should live in any 
other than what he would have called an ordinary way, with 
green glasses for hock, and excellent waiting at table. In 
warming himself at French social theories he had brought 
away no smell of scorching. We may handle even extreme 
opinions with impunity while our furniture, our dinner-giving, 
and preference for armorial bearings in our own case, link us 
indissolubly with the established order. And Lydgate's ten- 
dency was not towards extreme opinions : he would have 
liked no barefooted doctrines, being particular about his boots: 
he was no radical in relation to anything but medical reform 



862 MIDDLEMARCH. 

and the prosecution of discovery. In the rest of practical life 
he walked by hereditary habit ; half from that personal pride 
and unreflecting egoism which I have already called common- 
ness, and half from that naivete which belonged to preoccupa- 
tion with favorite ideas. 

Any inward debate Lydgate had as to the consequences of 
this engagement which had stolen upon him, turned on the 
paucity of time rather than of mone}^ Certainly, being in 
love and being expected continually by some one who always 
turned out to be prettier than memory could represent her to 
be, did interfere with the diligent use of spare hours which 
might serve some '^ plodding fellow of a German " to make 
the great, imminent discovery. This was really an argument 
for not deferring the marriage too long, as he implied to Mr. 
Earebrother, one day that the Vicar came to his room with 
some pond-products which he wanted to examine under a 
better microscope than his own, and, finding Lydgate's tableful 
of apparatus and specimens in confusion, said sarcastically — 

" Eros has degenerated ; he began by introducing order and 
harmony, and now he brings back chaos." 

^^Yes, at some stages," said Lydgate, lifting his brows and 
smiling, while he began to arrange his microscope. "But a 
better order will begin after." 

" Soon ? " said the Vicar. 

" I hope so, really. This unsettled state of affairs uses up 
the time, and when one has notions in science, every moment 
is an opportunity. I feel sure that marriage must be the best 
thing for a man who Avants to work steadily. He has every- 
thing at home then — no teasing with personal speculations — 
he can get calmness and freedom." 

"You are an enviable dog," said the Vicar, "to have such a 
prospect — Eosamond, calmness and freedom, all to your share. 
Here am I with nothing but my pipe and pond-animalcules. 
Now, are you ready ? " 

Lydgate did not mention to the Vicar another reason he had 
for wishing to shorten the period of courtship. It was rather 
irritating to him, even w^ith the wine of love in his veins, to 
bo obliged to mingle so often with the fam.ily party at the 



THKEE LOVE PKOBLEMS. 363 

Vincys', and to enter so much into Middlemarch gossip, pro- 
tracted good cheer, whist-playing, and general futilit}^ He 
had to be deferential when i\[r. Vincy decided questions with 
trenchant ignorance, especially as to those liquors which were 
the best inward pickle, preserving you from the effects of bad 
air. Mrs. Vincy's openness and simplicity were quite un- 
streaked with suspicion as to the subtle offence she might 
give to the taste of her intended son-in-law ; and altogether 
Lydgate had to confess to himself that he was descending a 
little in relation to Rosamond's family. But that exquisite 
creature herself suffered in the same sort of way : — it was at 
least one delightful thought that in marrying her, he could 
give her a much-needed transplantation, 

" Dear ! " he said to her one evening, in his gentlest tone, 
as he sat down by her and looked closely at her* face — 

But I must first say that he had found her alone in the 
drawing-room, where the great old-fashioned window, almost 
as large as the side of the room, was opened to the summer 
scents of the garden at the back of the house. Her father and 
mother were gone to a party, and the rest were all out with 
the butterflies. 

"Dear! your eyelids are red." 

" Are they ? " said Rosamond. " I wonder why." It was 
not in her nature to pour forth wishes or grievances. They 
only came forth gracefully on solicitation. 

"As if you could hide it from me!" said Lydgate, laying 
his hand tenderly on both of hers. " Don't I see a tiny drop 
on one of the lashes ? Things trouble you, and you don't tell 
me. That is unloving." 

"Why should T tell you what you cannot alter? They are 
every-day things : — perhaps they have been a little worse 
lately." 

" Family annoyances. Don't fear speaking. I guess 
them." 

" Papa has been more irritable lately. Fred makes him 
angry, and this morning there was a fresh quarrel because 
Fred threatens to throw his whole education away, and do 
something quite beneath him. And besides — " 



364 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Eosamond hesitated, and her cheeks were gathering a slight 
flush. Lydgate had never seen her in trouble since the morn- 
ing of their engagement, and he had never felt so passionately 
towards her as at this moment. He kissed the hesitating lips 
gently, as if to encourage them. 

"I feel that papa is not quite pleased about our engage- 
ment," Eosamond continued, almost in a whisper ; " and he 
said last night that he should certainly speak to you and say 
it must be given up." 

"Will you give it up ?" said Lydgate, with quick energy — 
almost angrily. 

" I never give up anything that I choose to do," said Eosa- 
mond, recovering her calmness at the touching of this chord. 

" God bless you ! " said Lydgate, kissing her again. This 
constancy of purpose in the right place was adorable. He 
went on : — 

" It is too late now for your father to say that our engage- 
ment must be given up. You are of age, and I claim you as 
mine. If anything is done to make you unhappy, — that is a 
reason for hastening our marriage." 

An unmistakable delight shone forth from the blue eyes 
that met his, and the radiance seemed to light up all his future 
with mild sunshine. Ideal happiness (of the kind known in 
the Arabian Nights, in which you are invited to step from the 
labor and discord of the street into a paradise where every- 
thing is given to you and nothing claimed) seemed to be an 
affair of a few weeks' waiting, more or less. 

" Why should we defer it ? " he said, with ardent insist- 
ance. " I have taken the house now : everything else can 
soon be got ready — can it not ? You will not mind about 
new clothes. Those can be bought afterwards." 

" What original notions you clever men have ! " said Eosa- 
mond, dimpling with more thorough laughter than usual at 
this humorous incongruity. " This is the first time I ever 
heard of wedding-clothes being bought after marriage." 

" But you don't mean to say you would insist on my waiting 
months for the sake of clothes ? " said Lydgate, half thinking 
that Eosamond was tormenting him prettily, and half fearing 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 365 

that she really shrank from speedy marriage. " Remember, 
we are looking forward to a better sort of happiness even than 
this — being continually together, independent of others, and 
ordering our lives as we will. Come, dear, tell me how soon 
you can be altogether mine.'' 

There was a serious pleading in Lydgate's tone, as if he 
felt that she would be injuring him by any fantastic delays. 
Rosamond became serious too, and slightly meditative ; in 
fact, she was going through many intricacies of lace-edging 
and hosiery and petticoat-tucking, in order to give an answer 
that would at least be approximative. 

"Six weeks would be ample — say so, Rosamond," insisted 
Lydgate, releasing her hands to put his arm gently round her. 

One little hand immediately went to pat her hair, while she 
gave her neck a meditative turn, and then said seriously — 

"There would be the house-linen and the furniture to be 
prepared. Still, mamma could see to those while we were 
away." 

"Yes, to be sure. "We must be away a week or so." 

" Oh, more than that ! " said Rosamond, earnestly. She 
was thinking of her evening dresses for the visit to Sir God- 
win Lydgate's, which she had long been secretly hoping for 
as a delightful employment of at least one quarter of the 
honeymoon, even if she deferred her introduction to the uncle 
who was a doctor of divinity (also a pleasing though sober 
kind of rank, when sustained b}^ blood). She looked at her 
lover with some wondering remonstrance as she spoke, and he 
readily understood that she might wish to lengthen the sweet 
time of double solitude. 

" Whatever you wish, my darling, when the day is fixed. 
But let us take a decided course, and put an end to any dis- 
comfort you may be suffering. Six weeks ! — I am sure they 
would be ample." 

"I could certainly hasten the work," said Rosamond. 
"Will you, then, mention it to papa? — I think it would be 
better to write to him." She blushed and looked at him as 
the garden flowers look at us when we walk forth happily 
among them in the transcendent evening light : is there not a 



366 MIDDLEMARCH. 

soul beyond utterance, half nymph, half child, in those deli- 
cate petals which glow and breathe about the centres of deep 
color ? 

He touched her ear and a little bit of neck under it with 
his lips, and they sat quite still for many minutes which 
flowed by them like a small gurgling brook with the kisses 
of the sun upon it. Eosamond thought that no one could be 
more in love than she was ; and Lydgate thought that after all 
his wild mistakes and absurd credulity, he had found perfect 
womanhood — felt as if already breathed upon by exquisite 
wedded affection such as would be bestowed by an accom- 
plished creature who venerated his high musings and momen- 
tous labors and would never interfere with them ; who would 
create order in the home and accounts with still magic, yet 
keep her fingers ready to touch the lute and transform life 
into romance at any moment ; who was instructed to the true 
womanly limit and not a hair's-breadth beyond — docile, there- 
fore, and ready to carry out behests which came from beyond 
that limit. It was plainer now than ever that his notion of 
remaining much longer a bachelor had been a mistake : mar- 
riage would not be an obstruction but a furtherance. And 
happening the next day to accompany a patient to Brassing, 
he saw a dinner-service there which struck him as so exactly 
the right thing that he bought it at once. It saved time to do 
these things just when you thought of them, and Lydgate 
hated ugly crockery. The dinner-service in question was 
expensive, but that might be in the nature of dinner-services. 
Furnishing was necessarily expensive ; but then it had to be 
done only once. 

"It must be lovely," said Mrs. Vincy, when Lydgate men- 
tioned his purchase with some descriptive touches. "Just 
what Kosy ought to have. I trust in heaven it won't be 
broken ! " 

"'One must hire servants who will not break things," said 
Lydgate. (Certainly, this was reasoning with an imperfect 
vision of sequences. But at that period there was no sort of 
reasoning which was not more or less sanctioned by men of 
science.) 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 367 

Of course it was unnecessary to defer the mention of any- 
thing to mamma, who did not readily take views that were not 
cheerful, and being a happy wife herself, had hardly any feel- 
ing but pride in her daughter's marriage. But Eosamond had 
good reasons for suggesting to Lydgate that papa should be 
appealed to in writing. She prepared for the arrival of the 
letter by walking with her papa to the warehouse the next 
morning, and telling him on the way that Mr. Lydgate wished 
to be married soon. 

"Nonsense, my dear !" said Mr. Vincy. "What has he got 
to marry on ? You 'd much better give up the engagement. 
I 've told you so pretty plainly before this. What have you 
had such an education for, if 3'Ou are to go and marry a poor 
man ? It's a cruel thing for a father to see." 

" Mr. Lydgate is not poor, papa. He bought Mr. Peacock's 
practice, which, they say, is worth eight or nine hundred 
a-year." 

" Stuff and nonsense ! What 's buying a practice ? He 
might as well buy next year's swallows. It'll all slip through 
his fingers." 

" On the contrary, papa, he will increase the practice. See 
how he has been called in by the Chettams and Casaubons." 

" I hope he knows I shan't give anything — .with this disap- 
pointment about Fred, and Parliament going to be dissolved, 
and machine-breaking everywhere, and an election coming 
on — " 

•' Dear papa ! what can that have to do with my marriage ?" 

" A pretty deal to do with it ! We may all be ruined for 
what I know — the country 's in that state ! Some say it 's the 
end of the world, and be hanged if I don't think it looks like 
it ! Anyhow, it 's not a time for me to be drawing money out 
of my business, and I should wish Lydgate to know that." 

" I am sure he expects nothing, papa. And he has such very 
high connections : he is sure to rise in one way or another. 
He is engaged in making scientific discoveries." 

Mr. Vincy was silent. 

"I cannot give up my only prospect of happiness, papa. 
Mr. Lydgate is a gentleman. I could never love any one 



868 MIDDLEMARCH. 

who was not a perfect geutlemaii. You would not like me to 
go into a consumption, as Arabella Hawley did. And you 
know that I never change my mind." 

Again papa was silent. 

"Promise me, papa, that you will consent to what we 
wish. We shall never give each other up ; and you know 
that you have always objected to long courtships and late 
marriages." 

There was a little more urgency of this kind, till Mr. Vincy 
said, " Well, well, child, he must write to me first before I can 
answer him," — and Eosamond was certain that she had gained 
her point. 

Mr. Vincy's answer consisted chiefly in a demand that Lyd- 
gate should insure his life — a demand immediately conceded. 
This was a delightfully reassuring idea supposing that Lydgate 
died, but in the mean time not a self-supporting idea. How- 
ever, it seemed to make everything comfortable about Rosa- 
mond's marriage ; and the necessary purchases went on with 
much spirit. Not without prudential considerations, however. 
A bride (who is going to visit at a baronet's) must have a few 
first-rate pocket-handkerchiefs ; but beyond the absolutely 
necessary half-dozen, Rosamond contented herself without the 
very highest style of embroidery and Valenciennes. Lydgate 
also, finding that his sum of eight hundred pounds had been 
considerably reduced since he had come to Middlemarch, re- 
strained his inclination for some plate of an old pattern which 
was shown to him when he went into Kibble's establishment 
at Brassing to buy forks and spoons. He was too proud to act 
as if he presupposed that Mr. Vincy would advance money to 
provide furniture ; and though, since it would not be necessary 
to pay for everything at once, some bills would be left standing 
over, he did not waste time in conjecturing how much his 
father-in-law would give in the form of dowry, to make pay- 
ment easy. He was not going to do anything extravagant, but 
the requisite things must be bought, and it would be bad econ- 
omy to buy them of a poor quality. All these matters were 
by the l)ye. Lydgate foresaw that science and his profession 
were the objects he should alone pursue enthusiastically ; but 



I 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 369 

he could not imagine himself pursuing them in such a home as 
Wrench had — the doors all open, the oil-cloth worn, the chil- 
dren in soiled pinafores, and lunch lingering in the form of 
bones, black-handled knives, and willow-pattern. But Wrench 
had a wretched lymphatic wife who made a mummy of herself 
indoors in a large sha wl ; and he must have altogether begun 
with an ill-chosen domestic apparatus. 

Rosamond, however, was on her side much occupied with 
conjectures, though her quick imitative perception warned her 
against betraying them too crudely. 

" I shall like so much to know your family," she said one 
day, when the wedding journey was being discussed. "We 
might perhaps take a direction that would allow us to see them 
as we returned. Which of your uncles do you like best ? " 

''Oh, — my uncle Godwin, I think. He is a good-natured 
old fellow." 

" You were constantly at his house at Quallingham, when 
you were a boy, were you not ? I should so like to see the old 
spot and everything you were used to. Does he know you are 
going to be married ? " 

*' No," said Lydgate, carelessly, turning in his chair and 
rubbing his hair up. 

" Do send him word of it, you naughty undutiful nephew. 
He will perhaps ask you to take me to Quallingliam ; and then 
you could show me about the grounds, and I could imagine you 
there when you were a boy. Remember, you see me in my 
home, just as it has been since I was a child. It is not fair that 
I should be so ignorant of yours. But perhaps you would be 
a little ashamed of me. I forgot that." 

L3algate smiled at her tenderly, and really accepted the 
suggestion that the proud pleasure of showing so charming a 
bride was worth some trouble. And now he came to think of 
it, he would like to see the old spots with Rosamond. 

" I will write to him, then. But my cousins are bores." 

It seemed magnificent to Rosamond to be able to speak so 
slightingly of a baronet's family, and she felt much content- 
ment in the prospect of being able to estimate them contemptu- 
ously on her own account. 

VOL. VII. 24 



370 MIDDLEMARCH. 

But mamma was near spoiling all, a day or two later, by 
saying — 

'' I hope your uncle Sir Godwin will not look down on Rosy, 
Mr. Lydgate. I should think he would do something hand- 
some. A thousand or two can be nothing to a baronet." 

"Mamma!" said Rosamond, blushing deeply ; and Lydgate 
pitied her so much that he remained silent and went to the 
other end of the room to examine a print curiously, as if he 
had been absent-minded. Mamma had a little filial lecture 
afterwards, and was docile as usual. But Rosamond reflected 
that if any of those high-bred cousins who were bores, should 
be induced to visit Middlemarch, they would see many things in 
her own family which might shock them. Hence it seemed de- 
sirable that Lydgate should by-and-by get some first-rate posi- 
tion elsewhere than in Middlemarch; and this could hardly be 
difficult in the case of a man who had a titled uncle and could 
make discoveries. Lydgate, you perceive, had talked fervidly 
to Rosamond of his hopes as to the highest uses of his life, 
and had found it delightful to be listened to by a creature who 
v.'ould bring him the sweet furtherance of satisfying affection 
— beauty — repose — such help as our thoughts get from the 
summer sky and the flower-fringed meadows. 

Lydgate relied much on the psychological difference between 
what for the sake of variety I will call goose and gander : es- 
pecially on the innate submissiveness of the goose as beauti- 
fully corresponding to the strength of the gander. 



I 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. S71 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Thrice happy she that is so well assured 

Unto herself, and settled so in heart, 

That neither will for better be allured 

Kc fears to worse with any chance to start, 

But like a steddy ship doth strongly part 

The raging waves, and keeps her course aright ; 

Ne aught for tempest dotli from it depart, 

No aught for fairer weather's false delight. 

Such self-assurance need not fear the spight 

Of grudging foes ; ue favour seek of friends ; 

But in the stay of her own stedfast might 

Neitlier to one lierself nor other bends. 

Most happy she that most assured doth rest, 
But lie most happy Avho such one loves best. 

Spenser. 

The doubt hinted by Mr. Vincy whether it were only the 
general election or the end of the world that was coming on, 
now that George the Fourth was dead, Parliament dissolved, 
Wellington and Peel generally depreciated and the new King 
apologetic, was a feeble type of the uncertainties in provincial 
opinion at that time. With the glow-worm lights of country 
places, how could men see which were their own thoughts in 
the confusion of a Tory Ministry passing Liberal measures, of 
Tory nobles and electors being anxious to return Liberals 
rather than friends of the recreant Ministers, and of outcries 
for remedies which seemed to have a mysteriously remote 
bearing on private interest, and were made suspicious by the 
advocacy of disagreeable neighbors ? P>uyers of the Middle- 
march newspapers found themselves in an anomalous position : 
during the agitation on the Catholic Question many had given 
up the " Pioneer " — which had a motto from Charles James 
Fox and was in the van of progress — because it had taken 
Peel's side about the Papists, and had thus blotted its Liberal- 
ism with a toleration of Jesuitry and Baal ; but they were ill- 



872 MIDDLEMARCH. 

satisfied with the "Trumpet," which — since its blasts against 
Kome, and in the general flaccidity of the public mind (nobody 
knowing who would support whom) — had become feeble in 
its blowing. 

It was a time, according to a noticeable article in the 
" Pioneer," when the crying needs of the country might well 
counteract a reluctance to public action on the part of men 
whose minds had from long experience acquired breadth as 
well as concentration, decision of judgment as well as toler- 
ance, dispassionateness as well as energy — in fact, all those 
qualities which in the melancholy experience of mankind have 
been the least disposed to share lodgings. 

Mr. Hackbutt, whose fluent speech was at that time floating 
more widely than usual, and leaving much uncertainty as to 
its ultimate channel, was heard to say in Mr. Hawley's office 
that the article in question ^' emanated " from Brooke of Tip- 
ton, and that Brooke had secretly bought the "Pioneer " some 
months ago. 

" That means mischief, eh ? " said Mr. Hawley. " He 's got 
the freak of being a popular man now, after dangling about 
like a stray tortoise. So much the worse for him. I 've had 
my eye on him for some time. He shall be prettily pumped 
upon. He 's a damned bad landlord. What business has an 
old county man to come currying favor with a low set of dark- 
blue freemen ? As to his paper, I only hope he may do the 
writing himself. It would be worth our paying for." 

" I understand he has got a very brilliant young fellow to 
edit it, who can write the highest style of leading article, quite 
equal to anything in the London papers. And he means to 
take very high ground on Eeform." 

" Let Brooke reform his rent-rolL He 's a cursed old screw, 
and the buildings all over his estate are going to rack. I sup- 
pose this young fellow is some loose fish from London." 

"His name is Ladislaw. He is said to be of foreign 
extraction." 

" I know the sort," said Mr. Hawley ; " some emissary. 
He '11 begin with flourishing about the Rights of Man and end 
with murdering a wench. That's the style." 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 373 

"You must concede that there are abuses, Hawley," said 
Mr. Hackbutt, foreseeing some political disagreement with his 
family lawyer. " I myself should never favor immoderate 
views — in fact I take my stand with Huskisson — but I can- 
not blind myself to the consideration that the non-representa- 
tion of large towns — " 

" Large towns be damned ! " said Mr. Hawle}', impatient of 
exposition. "I know^ a little too much about Middlemarch 
elections. Let 'em quash every pocket borough' to-morrow, 
and bring in every mushroom town in the kingdom — they'll 
only increase the expense of getting into Parliament. I go 
upon facts." 

Mr. Hawley's disgust at the notion of the "Pioneer" being 
edited by an emissary, and of Brooke becoming actively politi- 
cal — as if a tortoise of desultory pursuits should protrude 
its small head ambitiously and become rampant — was hardly 
equal to the annoyance felt by some members of ]Mr. Brooke's 
own family. The result had oozed forth gradually, like the 
discovery that your neighbor has set up an unpleasant kind of 
manufacture which will be permanently under your nostrils 
without legal remedy. The " l^ioneer " had been secretly 
bought even before Will Ladislaw's arrival, the expected 
opportunity having offered itself in the readiness of the pro- 
prietor to part with a valuable property which did not pay ; 
and in the interval since ]\Ir. Brooke had written his invita- 
tion, those germinal ideas of making his mind tell upon the 
world at large which had been present in him from his 
younger years, but had hitherto lain in some obstruction, had 
been sprouting under cover. 

The development was much furthered by a delight in his 
guest which proved greater even than he had anticipated. 
For it seemed that Will was not only at home in all those 
artistic and literary subjects which Mr. Brooke had gone into 
at one time, but that he was strikingly ready at seizing the 
points of the political situation, and dealing with them in that 
large spirit which, aided by adequate memory, lends itself to 
quotation and general eifectiveness of treatment. 

" He seems to me a kind of Shelley, you know," Mr. Brooke 



374 MIDDLEMARCH. 

took an opportunity of saying, for the gratification of Mr. 
Casaubon. ''I don't mean as to anything objectionable — 
laxities or atheism, or anything of that kind, you know — 
Ladislaw's sentiments in every way I am sure are good — in- 
deed, we were talking a great deal together last night. But 
he has the same sort of enthusiasm for liberty, freedom, eman- 
cipation — a fine thing under guidance — under guidance, you 
know. T think I shall be able to put him on the right tack; 
and I am the more pleased because he is a relation of yours, 
Casaubon." 

If the right tack implied anything more precise than the 
rest of Mr. Brooke's speech, Mr. Casaubon silently hoped that 
it referred to some occupation at a great distance from Lowick. 
He had disliked Will while he helped him, but he had begun 
to dislike him still more now that Will had declined his help. 
That is the way with us when we have any uneasy jealousy in 
our disposition : if our talents are chiefly of the burrowing 
kind, our honey-sipping cousin (whom we have grave reasons 
for objecting to) is likely to have a secret contempt for us, and 
any one who admires him passes an oblique criticism on our- 
selves. Having the scruples of rectitude in our souls, we are 
above the meanness of injuring him — rather we meet all his 
claims on us by active benefits ; and the drawing of checks 
for him, being a superiority which he must recognize, gives 
our bitterness a milder infusion. Now Mr. Casaubon had been 
deprived of that superiority (as anything more than a remem- 
brance) in a sudden, capricious manner. His antipathy to 
Will did not spring from the common jealousy of a winter- 
worn husband : it was something deeper, bred by his lifelong 
claims and discontents ; but Dorothea, now that she was pres- 
ent — Dorothea, as a young wife who herself had shown an 
offensive capability of criticism, necessarily gave concentration 
to the uneasiness which had before been vague. 

Will Ladislaw on his side felt that his dislike was flourish- 
ing at the expense of his gratitude, and spent much inward 
discourse in justifying the dislike. Casaubon hated him — 
he knew that very well ; on his first entrance he could discern 
a bitterness in the mouth and a venom in the glance which 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 375 

would almost justify declaring war in spite of past benefits. 
He was much obliged to Casaubon in the past, but really the 
act of marrying this wife was a set-off against the obligation. 
It was a question w^hether gratitude which refers to what is 
done for one's self ought not to give way to indignation at 
what is done against another. And Casaubon had done a 
wrong to Dorothea in marrying her. A man was bound to 
know himself better than that, and if he chose to grow gray 
crunching bones in a cavern, he had no business to be luring 
a girl into his companionship. "It is the most horrible of 
virgin-sacrifices," said Will ; and he painted to himself what 
were Dorothea's inward sorrows as if he had been writing a 
choric wail. But he would never lose sight of her : he would 
watch over her — if he gave up everything else in life he 
would watch over her, and she should know that she had one 
slave in the world. Will had — to use Sir Thomas Browne's 
phrase — a "passionate prodigality " of statement both to him- 
self and others. The simple truth was that nothing then in- 
vited him so strongly as the presence of Dorothea. 

Invitations of the formal kind had been wanting, however, 
for Will had never been asked to go to Lowick. Mr. Brooke, 
indeed, confident of doing everything agreeable which Casau- 
bon, poor fellow, was too much absorbed to think of, had 
arranged to bring Ladislaw to Lowick several times (not 
neglecting meanwhile to introduce him elsewhere on every 
opportunity as " a young relative of Casaubon's "). And 
though Will had not seen Dorothea alone, their interviews 
had been enough to restore her former sense of young com- 
panionship with one who was cleverer than herself, yet seemed 
ready to be swayed by her. Poor Dorothea before her mar- 
riage had never found much room in other minds for what she 
cared most to say ; and she had not, as w^e know, enjoyed her 
husband's superior instruction so much as she had expected. 
If she spoke with any keenness of interest to Mr. Casaubon, 
he heard her with an air of patience as if she had given a 
quotation from the Delectus familiar to him from his tender 
years, and sometimes mentioned curtly what ancient sects or 
personages had held similar ideas, as if there were too much 



376 MIDDLEMARCH. 

of that sort in stock already ; at other times he would inform 
her that she was mistaken, and reassert what her remark had 
questioned. 

But Will Ladislaw always seemed to see more in what she 
said than she herself saw. Dorothea had little vanity, but 
she had the ardent woman's need to rule benehcently by mak- 
ing the joy of another soul. Hence the mere chance of seeing 
Will occasionally was like a lunette opened in the wall of her 
prison, giving her a glimpse of the sunny air ; and this pleas- 
ure began to nullify her original alarm at what her husband 
might think about the introduction of Will as her uncle's 
guest. On this subject Mr. Casaubon had remained dumb. 

But Will wanted to talk with Dorothea alone, and was im- 
patient of slow circumstance. However slight the terrestrial 
intercourse between Dante and Beatrice or Petrarch and Laura, 
time changes the proportion of things, and in later days it 
is preferable to have fewer sonnets and more conversation. 
Necessity excused stratagem, but stratagem was limited by 
the dread of offending Dorothea. He found out at last that 
he wanted to take a particular sketch at Lowick ; and one 
morning when Mr. Brooke had to drive along the Lowick road 
on his way to the county town. Will asked to be set down 
with his sketch-book and camp-stool at Lowick, and without 
announcing himself at the Manor settled himself to sketch in 
a position where he must see Dorothea if she came out to 
walk — and he knew that she usually walked an hour in the 
morning. 

But the stratagem was defeated by the weather. Clouds 
gathered with treacherous quickness, the rain came down, and 
Will was obliged to take shelter in the house. He intended, 
on the strength of relationship, to go into the drawing-room 
and wait there without being announced ; and seeing his old 
acquaintance the butler in the hall, he said, •' Don't mention 
that I am here, Pratt ; I will wait till luncheon ; I know Mr. 
Casaubon does not like to be disturbed when he is in the 
library." 

" Master is out, sir ; there 's only Mrs. Casaubon in the 
library. I 'd better tell her you 're here, siv," said Pratt, a 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 377 

red-cheeked man given to lively converse with Tantripp, and 
often agreeing with her that it must be dull for Madam. 

"Oh very well; this confounded rain has hindered me 
from sketching," said Will, feeling so happy that he affected 
indifference with delightful ease. 

■ In another minute he was in the library, and Dorothea was 
meeting liim with her sweet unconstrained smile. 

" Mr! Casaubon has gone to the Archdeacon's," she said, at 
once. '^ I don't know whether he will be at home again long 
befoie dinner. He was uncertain how long he should be. 
Did you want to say anything particular to him ? " 

" No ; I came to sketch, but the rain drove me m. Else I 
would not have disturbed you yet. I supposed that Mr. 
Casaubon was here, and I know he dislikes interruption at 

this hour." 

" I am indebted to the rain, then. I am so glad to see 
you." Dorothea uttered these common words with the simple 
sincerity of an unhappy child, visited at school. 

"I really came for the chance of seeing you alone, said 
Will mysteriously forced to be just as simple as she was. 
He coukl not stay to ask himself, why not ? '' I wanted to 
talk about things, as we did in Kome. It always makes a 
difference when other people are present." 

"Yes," said Dorothea, in her clear full tone of assent. 
" Sit down." She seated herself on a dark ottoman with the 
brown books behind her, looking m her plain dress of some 
thin woollen-white material, without a single ornament on 
her besides her wedding-ring, as if she were under a vow to be 
different from all other women ; and Will sat down opposite 
her at two yards' distance, the light falling on his bright curls 
and delicate but rather petulant profile, with its defiant curves 
of lip and chin. Each looked at the other as if they had been 
two flowers which had opened then and there. Dorothea for 
the moment forgot her husband's mysterious irritation against 
Will • it seemed fresh water at her thirsty lips to speak with- 
out fear to the one person whom she had found receptive ; for 
in looking backward through sadness she exaggerated a past 
solace. 



378 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" I have often thought that I should like to talk to you 
again," she said, immediately. " It seems strange to me how 
many things I said to you." 

" I remember them all," said Will, with the unspeakable 
content in his soul of feeling that he was in the presence of a 
creature w^orthy to be perfectly loved. I think his own feel- 
ings at that moment were perfect, for we mortals have our 
divine moments, when love is satisfied in the completeness of 
the beloved object. 

'' I have tried to learn a great deal since we were in Eome," 
said Dorothea. '' I can read Latin a little, and I am beginning 
to understand just a little Greek. I can help Mr. Casaubon 
better now. I can find out references for him and save his 
eyes in many ways. But it is very difficult to be learned ; it 
seems as if people were worn out on the way to great thoughts, 
and can never enjoy them because they are too tired^" 

" If a man has a capacity for great thoughts, he is likely to 
overtake them before he is decrepit," said Wil], with irrepres- 
sible quickness. But through certain sensibilities Dorothea 
was as quick as he, and seeing her face change, he added, im- 
mediately, " But it is quite true that the best minds have been 
sometimes overstrained in working out their ideas.'' 

" You correct me," said Dorothea. " I expressed myself ill. 
I should have said that those who have great thoughts get too 
much worn in working them out. I used to feel about that, 
even when I was a little girl ; and it always seemed to me 
that the use I should like to make of my life would be to help 
some one who did great works, so that his burthen might be 
lighter." 

Dorothea was led on to this bit of autobiography without 
any sense of making a revelation. But she had never before 
said anything to Will which threw so strong a light on her 
marriage. He did not shrug his shoulders ; and for want of 
that muscular outlet he thought the more irritably of beautiful 
lips kissing holy skulls and other emptinesses ecclesiastically 
enshrined. Also he had to take care that his speech should 
not betray that thought. 

" But you may easily carry the help too far," he said, " and 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 379 

get over-wrought yourself. Are you not too much shut up ? 
You already look paler. It would be better for Mr. Casaubon 
to have a secretary ; he could easily get a man who would do 
half his work for him. It would save him more effectually, 
and you need only help him in lighter ways." 

'' How can you think of that ? " said Dorothea, m a tone of 
earnest remonstrance. " I should have no happiness if I did 
not help him in his work. What could I do ? There is no 
good to be done in Lowick. The only thing I desire is to help 
him more. And he objects to a secretary : please not to 
mention that again." 

" Certainly not, now I know your feeling. But I have 
heard both Mr. Brooke and Sir James Chettam express the 
same wish." 

"Yes," said Dorothea, "but they don't understand —they 
want me to be a great deal on horseback, and have the garden 
altered and new conservatories, to fill up my days. I thought 
you could understand that one's mind has other wants," she 
added, rather impatiently — "besides, Mr. Casaubon cannot 
bear to hear of a secretary." 

" My mistake is excusable," said Will. " In old days I used 
to hear I\[r. Casaubon speak as if he looked forward to having 
a secretary. Indeed he held out the prospect of that office to 
me. But I turned out to be — not good enough for it." 

Dorothea was trying to extract out of this an excuse for her 
husband's evident repulsion, as she said, with a playful smile, 
" You were not a steady worker enough." 

"No," said Will, shaking his head backward somewhat after 
the manner of a spirited horse. And then, the old irritable 
demon prompting him to give another good pinch at the moth- 
wings of poor Mr. Casaubon's glory, he went on, " And I have 
seen since that Mr. Casaubon does not like any one to overlook 
his work and know thoroughly what he is doing. He is too 
doubtful — too uncertain of himself. I may not be good for 
much, but he dislikes me because I disagree with him." 

Will was not without his intentions to be always generous, 
but our tongues are little triggers which have usually been 
pulled before general intentions can be brought to bear. And 



380 MIDDLEMARCH. 

it was too intolerable that Casaubon's dislike of him should 
not be fairly accounted for to Dorothea. Yet when he had 
spoken he was rather uneasy as to the effect on her. 

But Dorothea w^as straugeiy quiet — not immediately indig- 
nant, as she had been on a like occasion in Rome. And the 
cause lay deep. She was no longer struggling against the 
perception of facts, but adjusting herself to their clearest per- 
ception ; and now when she looked steadily at her husband's 
failure, still more at his possible consciousness of failure, she 
seemed to be looking along the one tract where duty became 
tenderness. Will's want of reticence might have been met 
with more severity, if he had not already been recommended 
to her mercy by her husband's dislike, which must seem hard 
to her till she saw better reason for it. 

She did not answer at once, but after looking down rumi- 
natingly she sa.id, with some earnestness, " Mr. Casaubon must 
have overcome his dislike of you so far as his actions were 
concerned : and that is admirable." 

" Yes ; he has shown a sense of justice in family matters. 
It was an abominable thing that my grandmother should have 
been disinherited because she made what they called a mesal- 
liance, though there was nothing to be said against her hus- 
band except that he was a Polish refugee who gave lessons 
for his bread." 

"I v/ish I knew all about her I " said Dorothea. "I wonder 
how she bore the change from wealth to poverty : I wonder 
whether she was happy with her husband ! Do you know 
much about them ? " 

"No; only that my grandfather was a patriot — a bright 
fellow — could speak many languages — musical — got his 
bread by teaching all sorts of things. They both died rather 
early. And I never knew much of my father, beyond what 
my mother told me ; but he inherited the musical talents. I 
remember his slow walk and his long thin hands ; and one 
day remains with me when he was lying ill, and I was very 
hungry, and had only a little bit of bread." 

" Ah, what a different life from mine ! "' said Dorothea, with 
keen interest, clasping her hands on her lap. "• I have alwa^^s 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 381 

had too much of everything. But tell me how it was — Mr. 
Casaubon could not have known about you then." 

" No ; but my father had made himself known to Mr. 
Casaubon, and that was my last hungry day. My father died 
soon after, and my mother and I were well taken care of. Mr. 
Casaubon always expressly recognized it as his duty to take 
care of us because of the harsh injustice which had been shown 
to his mother's sister. But now I am telling you what is not 
new to you." 

In his inmost soul Will was conscious of wishing to tell 
Dorothea what was rather new even in his own construction 
of things — namely, that Mr. Casaubon had never done more 
than pay a debt towards him. Will was much too good a fel- 
low to be easy under the sense of being ungrateful. And when 
gratitude has become a matter of reasoning there are many 
ways of escaping from its bonds. 

"Ko," answered Dorothea; "Mr. Casaubon has always 
avoided dwelling on his own honorable actions." She did not 
feel that her husband's conduct was depreciated ; but this 
notion of what justice had required in his relations with Will 
Ladislaw took strong hold on her mind. After a moment's 
pause, she added, " He had never told me that he supported 
your mother. Is she still living ? " 

"No; she died by an accident — a fall — four years ago. 
It is curious that my mother, too, ran away from her family, 
but not for the sake of her husband. She never would tell 
me anything about her family, except that she forsook them 
to get her own living — went on the stage, in fact. She was a 
dark-eyed creature, with crisp ringlets, and never seemed to be 
getting old. You see I come of rebellious blood on both sides," 
Will ended, smiling brightly at Dorothea, while she was still 
looking with serious intentness before her, like a child seeing 
a drama for the first time. 

But her face, too, broke into a smile as she said, " That is 
your apology, I suppose, for having yourself been rather rebel- 
lious ; I mean, to Mr. Casaubon's wishes. You must remem- 
ber that you have not done what he thought best for you. 
And if he dislikes you — you were speaking of dislike a little 



382 MIDDLEMARCH. 

while ago — but I slioiikl rather say, if he has shown any pain- 
ful feelings towards you, you must consider how sensitive he 
has become from the wearing effect of study. Perhaps,'^ she 
continued, getting into a pleading tone, " my uncle has not told 
you how serious Mr. Casaubon's illness was. It would be very 
petty of us who are well and can bear things, to think much 
of small offences from those who carry a weight of trial." 

" You teach me better," said Will. " I will never grumble 
on that subject again." There was a gentleness in his tone 
which came from the unutterable contentment of perceiving 
— what Dorothea was hardly conscious of — that she was trav- 
elling into the remoteness of pure pity and loyalty towards 
her husband. Will was ready to adore her pity and loyalty, 
if she would associate himself with her in manifesting them. 
"I have really sometimes been a perverse fellow," he went on, 
''but I will never again, if I can help it, do or say what you 
would disapprove." 

" That is very good of you," said Dorothea, with another 
open smile. '^ I shall have a little kingdom then, where I shall 
give laws. But you will soon go away, out of my rule, I 
imagine. You will soon be tired of staying at the Grange." 

"That is a point I wanted to mention to you — one of the 
reasons why I wished to speak to you alone. ^Mr. Brooke pro- 
poses that I should stay in this neighborhood. He has bought 
one of the Middlemarcli newspapers, and he wishes me to con- 
duct that, and also to help him in other ways." 

" Would not that be a sacrifice of higher prospects for you ? " 
said Dorothea. 

"Perhaps ; but I have always been blamed for thinking of 
prospects, and not settling to anything. And here is some- 
thing offered to me. If you would not like me to accept it, 
I will give it up. Otherwise I would rather stay in this part 
of the country than go away. I belong to nobody anywhere 
else." 

"I should like you to stay very much," said Dorothea, at 
once, as simply and readily as she had spoken at Eome. There 
was not the shadow of a reason in her mind at the moment 
why she should not say so. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 383 

"Then I will stay," said Ladislaw, shaking his head back- 
ward, rising and going towards the window, as if to see whether 
the rain had ceased. 

But the next moment, Dorothea, according to a habit which 
was getting continually stronger, began to reflect that her hus- 
band felt differently from herself, and she colored deeply under 
the double embarrassment of having expressed what might be 
in opposition to her husband's feeling, and of having to suggest 
this opposition to Will. His face was not turned towards her, 
and this made it easier to say — 

"But my opinion is of little consequence on such a subject. 
I think you should be guided by Mr. Casaubon. I spoke with- 
out thinking of anything else than my own feeling, which has 
nothing to do with the real question. But it now occurs to 
me — perhaps INIr. Casaubon might see that the proposal was 
not wise. Can you not wait now and mention it to him ? " 

" I can't wait to-day," said Will, inwardly scared by the 
possibility that Mr. Casaubon would enter. "The rain is quite 
over now. I told Mr. Brooke not to call for me : I would 
rather walk the five miles. I shall strike across Halsell Com- 
mon, and see the gleams on the wet grass. I like that." 

He approached her to shake hands quite hurriedly, longing 
but not daring to say, " Don't mention the subject to Mr. Casau- 
bon." No, he dared not, could not say it. To ask her to be 
less simple and direct would be like breathing on the crystal 
that you want to see the light through. And there was always 
the other great dread — of himself becoming dimmed and for- 
ever ray-shorn in her eyes. 

"I wish you could have stayed," said Dorothea, with a 
touch of mourn fulness, as she rose and put out her hand. She 
also had her thought which she did not like to express : — 
Will certainly ought to lose no time in consulting Mr. Casau- 
bon's wishes, but for her to urge this might seem an undue 
dictation. 

So they only said " Good-by," and Will quitted the house, 
striking across the fields so as not to run any risk of encoun- 
tering Mr. Casaubon's carriage, which, however, did not appear 
at the gate until four o'clock. That Avas an unpropitious hour 



384 MIDDLEMARCH. 

lor coming home : it w?.s too early to gain the moral support 
under ennui of dressing his persou for dinner, and too late to 
undress his mind of the day's frivolous ceremony and affairs, 
so as to be prej^ared for a good plunge into the serious busi- 
ness of study. On such occasions he usually threw himself 
into an easy-chair in the library, and allowed Dorothea to read 
the London papers to him, closing his eyes the while. To-day, 
however, he declined that relief, observing that he had already 
had too many public details urged upon him ; but he spoke 
more cheerfully than usual, when Dorothea asked about his 
fatigue, and added with that air of formal effort which never 
forsook him even when he spoke without his waistcoat and 
cravat — 

" I have had the gratification of meeting my former acquaint- 
ance, Dr. Spanning, to-day, and of being praised by one who is 
himself a worthy recipient of praise. He spoke very hand- 
somely of my late tractate on the Egyptian Mysteries, — using, 
in fact, terms which it would not become me to repeat." In 
uttering the last clause, Mr. Casaubon leaned over the elbow 
of his chair, and swayed his head up and down, apparently as 
a muscular outlet instead of that recapitulation which would 
not have been becoming. 

"I am very glad you have had that pleasure," said Dorothea, 
delighted to see her husband less weary than usual at this 
hour. " Before you came I had been regretting that you hap- 
pened to be out to-day." 

" Why so, my dear ? " said Mr. Casaubon, throwing himself 
backward again. 

" Because Mr. Ladislaw has been here ; and he has . men- 
tioned a proposal of my uncle's which I should like to know 
your opinion of." Her husband she felt was really concerned 
in this question. Even with her ignorance of the world she 
had a vague impression that the position offered to Will was 
out of keeping with his family connections, and certainly Mr. 
Casaubon had a claim to be consulted. He did not speak, but 
merely bowed. 

" Dear uncle, you know, has many projects. It appears that 
he has bought one of the Middlemarch newspapers, and he has 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 385 

asked Mr. Ladislaw to stay in this neigliborhood and conduct 
the pai:»er for him, besides helping him in other ways." 

Dorothea looked at her husband while she spoke, but he had 
at first blinked and finally closed his eyes, as if to save them ; 
while his lips became more tense. " What is your opinion ? " 
she added, rather timidly, after a slight pause. 

" Did Mr. Ladislaw come on purpose to ask my opinion ? " 
said Mr. Casaubon, opening his eyes narrowly with a knife- 
edged look at Dorothea. She was really uncomfortable on the 
point he intpiired about, but she only became a little more 
serious, and her eyes did not swerve. 

" Ko," she answered immediately, " he did not say that he 
came to ask your opinion. But when he mentioned the pro- 
posal, he of course expected me to tell 3'ou of it." 

IVIr. Casaubon was silent. 

" I feared that you might feel some objection. But cer- 
tainly a young man with so much talent might be very useful 
to my uncle — might help him to do good in a better way. 
And Mr. Ladislaw wishes to have some fixed occupation. He 
has been blamed, he says, for not seeking something of that 
kind, and he would like to stay in this neighborhood because 
no one cares for him elsewhere." 

Dorothea felt that this was a consideration to soften her 
husband. However, he did not speak, and she presently re- 
curred to Dr. Spanning and the Archdeacon's breakfast. But 
there was no longer sunshine on these subjects. 

The next morning, without Dorothea's knowledge, Mr. 
Casaubon despatched the following letter, beginning " Dear 
Mr. Ladislaw " (he had always before addressed him as 
" Will ") : — 

"Mrs. Casaubon informs me that a proposal has been made to you, 
and (according to an inference by no means stretclied) has on j'our 
part been in some degree entertained, which involves your residence 
in this neighborhood in a capacity which I am justified in saying 
touches my own position in such a way as renders it not only natm-al 
and warrantable in me when that effect is viewed under the influence 
of legitimate feeling, but incumbent on me when the same effect is 
considered in the light of my responsibilities, to state at once that 
voi>. v[i. 25 



386 MIDDLEMARCH. 

your acceptance of the proposal above indicated would be highly 
offensive to me. That I have some claim to the exercise of a veto 
here, would not, I believe, be denied by any reasonable person cogni- 
zant of the relations between us: relations which, though thrown into 
the past by your recent procedure, are not thereby annulled in their 
character of determining antecedents. I will not here make reflec- 
tions on any person's judgment. It is enough for me to point out to 
yourself that there are certain social fitnesses and proprieties which 
should hinder a somewhat near relative of mine from becoming in 
any wise conspicuous in this vicinity in a status not only much be- 
neath my own, but associated at best with the sciolism of literary or 
political adventurers. At any rate, the contrary issue must exclude 
you from further reception at my house. Yours faithfully, 

" Edw^ard Casaubon." 



Meanwhile Dorothea's mind was innocently at work tow^ards 
the further embitterment of her husband ; dwelling, with a 
sympathy that grew to agitation, on w^hat Will had told her 
about his parents and grandparents. Any private hours in 
her day were usually spent in her blue-green boudoir, and she 
had come to be very fond of its pallid quaintness. Nothing 
had been outwardly altered there ; but while the summer had 
gradually advanced over the w^estern fields beyond the avenue 
of elms, the bare room had gathered within it those memories 
of an inward life which fill the air as w^ith a cloud of good or 
bad angels, the invisible yet active forms of our spiritual 
triumphs or our spiritual falls. She had been so used to 
struggle for and to find resolve in looking along the avenue 
towards the arch of western light that the vision itself had 
gained a communicating powder. Even the pale stag seemed 
to have reminding glances and to mean mutely, " Yes, we 
know." And the group of delicately touched miniatures had 
made an audience as of beings no longer disturbed about their 
own earthly lot, but still humanly interested. Especially the 
mysterious "Aunt Julia" about whom Dorothea had never 
found it easy to question her husband. 

And now, since her conversation with Will, many fresh 
images had gathered round that Aunt Julia who was Will's 
grandmother ; the presence of that delicate miniature, so like 



THREE LOVE PEOBLEMS. 387 

a living face that she knew, helping to concentrate her feel- 
ings. What a wrong, to cut off the girl from the family pro- 
tection and inheritance only because she had chosen a man 
who was poor ! Dorothea, early troubling her elders with 
questions about the facts around her, had wrought herself 
into some independent clearness as to the historical, political 
reasons why eldest sons had superior rights, and why land 
should be entailed : those reasons, impressing her with a cer- 
tain awe, might be weightier than she knew, but here was a 
question of ties which left them uninfringed. Here was a 
daughter whose child — even according to the ordinary aping 
of aristocratic institutions by people who are no more aristo- 
cratic than retired grocers, and who have no more land to 
" keep together " than a lawn and a paddock — would have a 
prior claim. Was inheritance a question of liking or of re- 
sponsibility ? All the energy of Dorothea's nature went on 
the side of responsibility — the fulfilment of claims founded 
on our own deeds, such as marriage and parentage. 

It was true, she said to herself, that Mr. Casaubon had a 
debt to the Ladislaws — that he had to pay back what the 
Ladislaws had been wronged of. And now she began to think 
of her husband's will, which had been made at the time of 
their marriage, leaving the bulk of his property to her, with 
proviso in case of her having children. That ought to be 
altered ; and no time ought to be lost. This very question 
which had just arisen about Will Ladislaw's occupation, was 
the occasion for placing things on a new, right footing. Her 
husband, she felt sure, according to all his previous conduct, 
would be ready to take the just view, if she proposed it — 
she, in whose interest an unfair concentration of the property 
had been urged. His sense of right had surmounted and 
would continue to surmount anything that might be called 
antipathy. She suspected that her uncle's scheme was disap- 
proved by Mr. Casaubon, and this made it seem all the more 
opportune that a fresh understanding should be begun, so that 
instead of Will's starting penniless and accepting the first 
function that offered itself, he should find himself in posses- 
sion of a rightful income which should be paid by her husband 



388 MIDDLEMARCH. 

during his life, and, by an immediate alteration of the will, 
should be secured at his death. The vision of all this as what 
ought to be done seemed to Dorothea like a sudden letting in 
of dajdight, waking her from her previous stupidity and in- 
curious self-absorbed ignorance about her husband's relation 
to others. Will Ladislaw had refused Mr. Casaubon's future 
aid on a ground that no longer appeared right to her ; and 
Mr. Casaubon had never himself seen fully what was the 
claim upon him. " But he will ! " said Dorothea. " The 
great strength of his character lies here. And what are we 
doing with our money ? We make no use of half of our income. 
My own money buys me nothing but an uneasy conscience." 

There was a peculiar fascination for Dorothea in this divi- 
sion of property intended for herself, and always regarded by 
her as excessive. She was blind, you see, to many things 
obvious to others — likely to tread in the wrong places, as 
Celia had warned her ; yet her blindness to whatever did not 
lie in her own pure purpose carried her safely by the side of 
precipices where vision would have been perilous with fear. 

The thoughts which had gathered vividness in the solitude 
of her boudoir occupied her incessantly through the day on 
which Mr. Casaubon had sent his letter to Will. Everything 
seemed hindrance to lier till she could find an opportunity of 
opening her heart to her husband. To his preoccupied mind 
all subjects were to be approached gently, and she had never 
since his illness lost from her consciousness the dread of agi- 
tating him. But when young ardor is set brooding over the 
conception of a prompt deed, the deed itself seems to start 
forth with independent life, mastering ideal obstacles. The 
day passed in a sombre fashion, not unusual, though j\Ir. 
Casaubon was perhaps unusually silent ; but there were hours 
of the night which might be counted on as opportunities of 
conversation ; for Dorothea, when aware of her husband's 
sleeplessness, had established a habit of rising, lighting a 
candle, and reading him to sleep again. And this night she 
was from the beginning sleepless, excited by resolves. He 
slept as usual for a few hours, but she had risen softly and 
had sat in the darkness for nearly an hour before he said — 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 389 

" Dorothea, since you are up, will you light a caudle ? " 

" Do you feel ill, dear ? " was her first question, as she 
obeyed him. 

" No, not at all ; but I shall be obliged, since you are up, if 
you will read me a few pages of Lowth." 

" ]\Iay I talk to you a little instead ? " said Dorothea. 

" Certainly." 

"I have been thinking about money all day — that I have al- 
ways had too much, and especially the prospect of too much." 

"These, my dear Dorothea, are providential arrangements." 

"But if one has too much in consequence of others being 
wronged, it seems to me that the divine voice which tells us 
to set that wrong right must be obeyed." 

" What, my love, is the bearing of your remark ? " 

"That you have been too liberal in arrangements for me 
— I mean, with regard to property; and that makes me 
unhappy." 

" How so ? I have none but comparatively distant con- 
nections." 

" I have been led to think about your aunt Julia, and how 
she was left in poverty only because she married a poor man, 
an act which was not disgraceful, since he was not unworthy. 
It was on that ground, I know, that you educated Mr. Ladislaw 
and provided for his mother." 

Dorothea waited a few moments for some answer that would 
help her onward. None came, and her next words seemed the 
more forcible to her, falling clear upon the dark silence. 

"But surely we should regard his claim as a much greater 
one, even to the half of that property which I know that you 
have destined for me. And I think he ought at once to be 
provided for on that understanding. It is not right that he 
should be in the dependence of poverty while we are rich. 
And if there is any objection to the proposal he mentioned, 
the giving him his true place and his true share would set 
aside any motive for his accepting it." 

" Mr. Ladislaw has probably been speaking to 3^ou on this 
subject ? " said Mr. Casaubon, with a certain biting quickness 
not habitual to him. 



390 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"Indeed, no!" said Dorothea, earnestly. "How can you 
imagine it, since he has so lately declined everything from 
you ? I fear you think too hardly of him, dear. He only told 
me a little about his parents and grandparents, and almost all 
in answer to my questions. You are so good, so just — you 
have done everything you thought to be right. But it seems 
to me clear that more than that is right ; and I must speak 
about it, since I am the person who would get what is called 
beneht by that ' more ' not being done." 

There was a perceptible pa,use before Mr. Casaubon re- 
plied, not quickly as before, but with a still more biting 
emphasis. 

"Dorothea, my love, this is not the first occasion, but it 
were well that it should be the last, on which you have as- 
sumed a judgment on subjects beyond your scope. Into the 
question how far conduct, especially in the matter of alliances, 
constitutes a forfeiture of family claims, I do not now enter. 
Suffice it, that you are not here qualified to discriminate. 
What I now wish you to understand is, that I accept no re- 
vision, still less dictation within that range of affairs which I 
have deliberated upon as distinctly and properly mine. It is 
not for you to interfere between me and Mr. Ladislaw, and 
still less to encourage communications from him to you which 
constitute a criticism on my procedure." 

Poor Dorothea, shrouded in the darkness, was in a tumult 
of conflicting emotions. Alarm at the possible effect on him- 
self of her husband's strongly manifested anger, would have 
checked any expression of her own resentment, even if she 
had been quite free from doubt and compunction under the 
consciousness that there might be some justice in his last 
insinuation. Hearing him breathe quickly after he had spoken, 
she sat listening, frightened, wretched — with a dumb in- 
ward cry for help to bear this nightmare of a life in which 
every energy was arrested by dread. But nothing else hap- 
pened, except that they both remained a long while sleepless, 
without speaking again. 

The next day, Mr. Casaubon received the following answer 
from Will Ladislaw : — 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS 391 

"Dear Mr. Casaubon, — I have given all due consideration to 
your letter of yesterday, but I am unable to take precisely your view 
of our mutual position. With the fullest acknowledgment of your 
generous conduct to me in the past, I must still maintain that an obli- 
gation of this kind cannot fairly fetter me as you appear to expect 
that it should. Granted that a benefactor's wishes may constitute a 
claim; there must always be a reservation as to the quality of those 
wishes. They may possibly clash with more imperative considera- 
tions. Or a benefactor's veto might impose such a negation on a 
man's life that the consequent blank might be more cruel than the 
benefaction was generous. I am merely using strong illustrations. 
In the present case I am unable to take your view of the bearing 
which my acceptance of occupation — not enriching certainly, but not 
dishonorable — will have on your own position, which seems to me too 
substantial to be affected in that shadowy manner. And though I do 
not believe that any change in our relations will occur (certainly none 
has yet occurred) which can nullify the obligations imposed on me by 
the past, pardon me for not seeing that those obligations should re- 
strain me from using the ordinary freedom of living where I choose, 
and maintaining myself by any lawful occupation I may choose. 
Regretting that there exists this difference between us as to a relation 
in which the conferring of benefits has been entirely on your side — I 
remain, yours with persistent obligation. Will Ladislaw." 

Poor Mr. Casaubon felt (and must not we, being impartial, 
feel with him a little ?) that no man had juster cause for dis- 
gust and suspicion than he. Young Ladislaw^, he was sure, 
meant to defy and annoy him, meant to win Dorothea's conti- 
dence and sow her mind with disrespect, and perhaps aversion, 
towards her husband. Some motive beneath the surface had 
been needed to account for WilPs sudden change of course in 
rejecting Mr. Casaubon's aid and quitting his travels ; and 
this defiant determination to fix himself in the neighborhood 
by taking up something so much at variance with his former 
choice as Mr. Brooke's Middlemarch projects, revealed clearly 
enough that the undeclared motive had relation to Dorothea. 
Not for one moment did Mr. Casaubon suspect Dorothea of 
any doubleness : he had no suspicions of her, but he had (what 
was little less uncomfortable) the positive knowledge that her 
tendency to form opinions about her husband's conduct was 
accompanied with a disposition to regard Will Ladislaw favor- 



392 MIDDLEMARCH. 

ably and be influenced by what he said. His own proud reti- 
cence had prevented him from ever being undeceived in the 
supposition that Dorothea had originally asked her uncle to 
invite Will to his house. 

And now, on receiving Will's letter, Mr. Casaubon had to 
consider his duty. He would never have been easy to call his 
action anything else than duty ; but in this case, contending 
motives thrust him back into negations. 

Should he apply directly to Mr. Brooke, and demand of that 
troublesome gentleman to revoke his proposal ? Or should he 
consult Sir James Chettam, and get him to concur in remon- 
strance against a step which touched the whole family ? In 
either case Mr. Casaubon was aware that failure was just as 
probable as success. It was impossible for him to mention 
Dorothea's name in the matter, and without some alarming ur- 
gency Mr. Brooke was as likely as not, after meeting all repre- 
sentations with apparent assent, to wind up by saying, " Never 
fear, Casaubon ! Depend upon it, young Ladislaw will do you 
credit. Depend upon it, I have put my finger on the right 
thing." And Mr. Casaubon shrank nervously from communi- 
cating on the subject with Sir James Chettam, between whom 
and himself there had never been any cordiality, and who would 
immediately think of Dorothea without any mention of her. 

Poor Mr. Casaubon was distrustful of everybody's feeling 
towards him, especially as a husband. To let any one sup- 
l)ose that he was jealous would be to admit their (suspected) 
view of his disadvantages : to let them know that he did not 
find marriage particularly blissful would imply his conversion 
to their (probably) earlier disapproval. It would be as bad as 
letting Carp, and Brasenose generally, know how backward he 
Avas in organizing the matter for his " Key to all Mythologies." 
All through his life Mr. Casaubon had been trying not to 
admit even to himself the inward sores of self-doubt and 
jealousy. And on the most delicate of all personal subjects, 
the habit of proud suspicious reticence told doubly. 

Thus Mr. Casaubon remained proudly, bitterly silent. But 
he had forbidden Will to come to Lowick Manor, and he was 
mentally preparing other measures of frustration. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 393 



CHAPTER XXXVIIT. 

C'est beaucoup que le jugement des hommes sur les actions humaines ; 
tot ou tarcl il devient etficace. — Guizot. 

Sir James Chettam could not look with an 3^ satisfaction 
on Mr. Brooke's new courses; but it was easier to object than 
to hinder. Sir James accounted for his having come in alone 
one day to lunch with the Cadwalladers by saying — 

"I can't talk to you as I Avant, before Celia: it might hurt 
her. Indeed, it would not be right." 

" I know what you mean — the ' Pioneer ' at the Grange ! " 
darted in Mrs. Cadwallader, almost before the last word was 
oft" her friend's tongue. "It is frightful — this taking to buy- 
ing whistles and blowing them in everybody's hearing. Lying 
in bed all clay and playing at dominoes, like poor Lord Plessy, 
would be more private and bearable." 

" T see they are beginning to attack our friend Brooke in 
the ' Trumpet,' " said the Rector, lounging back and smiling 
easily, as he would have done if he had been attacked himself. 
''There are tremendous sarcasms against a landlord not a 
hundred miles from Middlemarch, who receives his own rents, 
and makes no returns." 

" I do wish Brooke would leave that off," said Sir James, 
with his little frown of annoyance. 

" Is he really going to be put in nomination, though ? " said 
INIr. Cadwallader. " I saw Farebi'other yesterday — he 's Whig- 
gish himself, hoists Brougham and Useful Knowledge; that's 
the worst I know of him ; — and he says that Brooke is get- 
ting up a pretty strong party. Bulstrode, the banker, is his 
foremost man. But he thinks Brooke would come off badly 
at a nomination." 

"Exactly," said Sir James, with earnestness. "I have been 
inquiring into the thing, for I 've never known anything about 
Middlemarch politics before — the county being my business. 



394 MIDDLEMARCH. 

What Brooke trusts to, is that they are going to turn out 
Oliver because he is a Peelite. But Hawley tells ine that 
if they send up a Whig at all it is sure to be Bagster, one 
of those candidates who come from heaven knows where, 
but dead against Ministers, and an experienced Parliamentary 
man. Hawley 's rather rough : he forgot that he was speaking 
to me. He said if Brooke wanted a pelting, he could get it 
cheaper than by going to the hustings." 

''I warned you all of it," said Mrs. Cadwallader, waving 
her hands outward. "I said to Humphrey long ago, Mr. 
Brooke is going to make a splash in the mud. And now he 
has done it." 

"Well, he might have taken it into his head to marry," said 
the Rector. " That would have been a graver mess than a 
little flirtation with politics." 

" He may do that afterwards," said Mrs. Cadwallader — 
" when he has come out on the other side of the mud with an 
ague." 

" What I care for most is his own dignity," said Sir James. 
"Of course I care the more because of the family. But he's 
getting on in life now, and I don't like to think of his exposing 
himself. They will be raking up everything against him." 

" I suppose it 's no use trying any persuasion," said the Rector. 
" There 's such an odd mixture of obstinacy and changeable- 
ness in Brooke. Have you tried him on the subject ? " 

"Well, no," said Sir James; "I feel a delicacy in appearing 
to dictate. But I have been talking to this young Ladislaw 
that Brooke is making a factotum of. Ladislaw seems clever 
enough for anything. I thought it as well to hear what he 
had to say ; and he is against Brooke's standing this time. I 
think he '11 turn him round : I think the nomination may be 
staved off." 

" I know," said Mrs. Cadwallader, nodding. "The indepen- 
dent member has n't got his speeches well enough by heart." 

"But this Ladislaw — there again is a vexatious business," 
said Sir James. ''We have had him two or three times to 
dine at the Hall (you have met him, by the bye) as Brooke's 
guest and a relation of Casaubon's, thinking he was only on a 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 395 

flying visit. And now I find he 's in everybody's mouth in 
Middlemarch as the editor of the ' Pioneer.' There are stories 
going about him as a quill-driving alien, a foreign emissary, 
and what not." 

" Casaubon won't like that," said the Rector. 

"There is some foreign blood in Ladislaw," returned Sir 
James. " I hope he won't go into extreme opinions and carry 
Brooke on." 

"Oh, he's a dangerous young sprig, that Mr. Ladislaw," 
said Mrs. Cadwallader, " with his opera songs and his ready 
tongue. A sort of Byronic hero — an amorous conspirator, it 
strikes me. And Thomas Aquinas is not fond of him. I 
could see that, the day the picture was brought." 

" I don't like to begin on the subject with Casaubon," said 
Sir James. "He has more right to interfere than I. But 
it 's a disagreeable affair all round. What a character for 
anybody with decent connections to show himself in! — one 
of those newspaper fellows ! You have only to look at Keck, 
who manages the ' Trumpet.' I saw him the other day with 
Hawley. His writing is sound enough, I believe, but he 's 
such a low fellow, that I wished he had been on the wrong 
side." 

"What can you expect with these peddling Middlemarch 
papers ? " said the Rector. " I don't suppose you could get 
a high style of man anywhere to be writing up interests he 
does n't really care about, and for pay that hardly keeps him 
in at elbows." 

" Exactly : that makes it so annoying that Brooke should 
have put a man who has a sort of connection with the family 
in a position of that kind. For my part, I think Ladislaw is 
rather a fool for accepting." 

"It is Aquinas's fault," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "Why 
did n't he use his interest to get Ladislaw made an attache or 
sent to India ? That is how families get rid of troublesome 
sprigs." 

"There is no knowing to what lengths the mischief may 
go," said Sir James, anxiously. "But if Casaubon says noth- 
ing, what can I do ? " 



396 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"Oh, iny dear Sir James," said the Rector, "don't let us 
make too much of all this. It is likely enough to end in mere 
smoke. After a month or two Brooke and this Master Ladis- 
law will get tired of each other ; Ladislaw will take wing ; 
Brooke ^vill sell the ' Pioneer,' and everything will settle down 
again as usual." 

" There is one good chance — that he will not like to feel 
his money oozing away," said Mrs. Cadwallader. " If I knew 
the items of election expenses I could scare him. It 's no use 
plying him wdth wide words like Ex23enditure : I would n't 
talk of phlebotomy, I would empty a pot of leeches upon him. 
What we good stingy people don't like, is having our six- 
pences sucked away from us." 

" And he will not like having things raked up against him," 
said Sir James. "There is the management of his estate. 
They have begun upon that already. And it really is painful 
for me to see. It is a nuisance under one's very nose. I do 
think one is bound to do the best for one's land and tenants, 
especially in these hard times." 

" Perhaps the ' Trumpet' may rouse him to make a change, 
and some good may come of it all," said the Rector. " I know 
I should be glad. I should hear less grumbling when my 
tithe is paid. I don't know what I should do if there were 
not a modus in Tipton." 

" I want him to have a proper man to look after things — I 
want him to take on Garth again," said Sir James. " He got 
rid of Garth twelve years ago, and everything has been going 
wrong since. I think of getting Garth to manage for me — 
he has made such a capital plan for my buildings ; and Love- 
good is hardly up to the mark. But Garth would not under- 
take the Tipton estate again unless Brooke left it entirely to 
him." 

" In the right of it too," said the Rector. " Garth is an 
independent fellow : an original, simple-minded fellow. One 
day, when he was doing some valuation for me, he told me 
point-blank that clergymen seldom understood anything about 
business, and did mischief when they meddled; but he said it 
as quietly and respectfully as if he had been talking to me 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 397 

about sailors. He would make a different parish of Tipton, if 
Brooke would let him manage. I wish, by the help of the 
' Trumpet,' you could bring that round." 

'' If Dorothea had kept near her uncle, there would have 
been some chance," said Sir James. "She might have got 
some power over him in time, and she was always uneasy 
about the estate. She had wonderfully good notions about 
such things. But now Casaubon takes her up entirely. Celia 
complains a good deal. We can hardly get her to dine with 
us, since he had that fit." Sir James ended with a look of 
pitying disgust, and Mrs. Cadwallader shrugged her shoulders 
as much as to say that she was not likely to see anything new 
in that direction. 

*' Poor Casaubon ! " the Rector said. " That was a nasty 
attack. I thought he looked shattered the other day at the 
Archdeacon's." 

"In point of fact," resumed Sir James, not choosing to dwell 
on " fits," " Brooke does n't mean badly by his tenants or any 
one else, but he has got that way of paring and clipping at 
expenses." 

" Come, that 's a blessing," said Mrs. Cadwallader. " That 
helps him to find himself in a morning. He may not know his 
own opinions, but he does know his own pocket." 

"I don't believe a man is in pocket by stinginess on his 
land," said Sir James. 

" Oh, stinginess may be abused like other virtues : it will 
not do to keep one's own pigs lean," said Mrs. Cadwallader, 
who had risen to look out of the window. '•' But talk of an 
independent politician and he will appear." 

" What ! Brooke ? " said her husband. 

" Yes. Xow, you ply him with the ' Trumpet,' Humphrey ; 
and I will put the leeches on him. W^hat will you do, Sir 
James ?" 

" The fact is, I don't like to begin about it with Brooke, in 
our mutual position ; the whole thing is so unpleasant. I do 
wnsh people would behave like gentlemen," said the good 
baronet, feeling that this was a simple and comprehensive 
programme for social well-being. 



398 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Here you all are, eh ? " said Mr. BrooKe, shuffling round 
and shaking hands. " I was going up to the Hall by-and-b}^, 
Chettam. But it 's pleasant to find everybody, you know. 
Well, what do you think of things ? — going on a little fast ! 
It was true enough, what Lafitte said — ^ Since yesterday, a 
century has passed away : ' — they 're in the next century, you 
know, on the other side of the water. Going on faster than 
we are.'' 

"Why, yes," said the Rector, taking up the newspaper. 
"Here is the 'Trumpet' accusing you of lagging behind — did 
you see ? " 

" Eh ? no," said iMr. Brooke, dropping his gloves into his 
hat and hastily adjusting his eye-glass. But Mr. Cadwallader 
kept the paper in his hand, saying, with a smile in his eyes — 

" Look here ! all this is about a landlord not a hundred 
miles from Middlemarch, who receives his own rents. They 
say he is the most retrogressive man in the county. I think 
you must have taught them that word in the 'Pioneer.' " 

" Oh, that is Keck — an illiterate fellow, you know. Retro- 
gressive, now ! Come, that 's capital. He thinks it means 
destructive : they want to make me out a destructive, you 
know," said Mr. Brooke, with that cheerfulness which is 
usually sustained by an adversary's ignorance. 

" I think he knows the meaning of the word. Here is a 
sharp stroke or two. If we had to describe a man ivho is retro- 
gressive in the most evil sense of the word — we should say, he 
is one who would dub himself a reformer of our constitution, 
while every interest for which he is immediately responsible is 
going to decay : a philanthropist who cannot bear one rogue to 
be hanged, but does not mind five honest tenants being half- 
starved : a man who shrieks at corrup)tion, and keeps his farms 
at rack-rent: ivho roars himself red at rotten boroughs, and does 
not mind if every field on his farms has a rotten gate: a man 
very open-hearted to Leeds and Manchester, no doubt ; he ivould 
give any number of representatives ivho ivill p>ay for their seats 
out of their own pockets : ichat he objects to giving, is a little 
return on rent-days to help a tenant to buy stock, or an outlay on 
repairs to keep the weather out at a tenant' s barn-door or make 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 399 

his house look a little less like an Irish cottiei^s. But we all 
know the wag's definition of a philanthropist: a man ivhose 
charity increases directly as the square of the distance. And so 
on. All the rest is to show what sort of legislator a philan- 
thropist is likely to make," ended the Rector, throwing down 
the paper, and clasping his hands at the back of his head, 
while he looked at Mr. Brooke with an air of amused 
neutrality. 

''Come, that's rather good, you know," said Mr. Brooke, 
taking up the paper and trying to bear the attack as easily as 
his neighbor did, but coloring and smiling rather nervously ; 
"that about roaring himself red at rotten boroughs — I never 
made a speech about rotten boroughs in my life. And as to 
roaring myself red and that kind of thing — these men never 
understand what is good satire. Satire, you know, should be 
true up to a certain point. I recollect they said that in ' The 
Edinburgh' somewhere — it must be true up to a certain 
point." 

"Well, that is really a hit about the gates," said Sir James, 
anxious to tread carefully. "Dagley complained to me the 
other day that he had n't got a decent gate on his farm. Garth 
has invented a new pattern of gate — I wish you would try it. 
One ought to use some of one's timber in that way." 

"You go in for fancy farming, you know, Chettam," said 
Mr. Brooke, appearing to glance over the columns of the 
"Trumpet." "That's your hobby, and you don't mind the 
expense." 

"I thought the most expensive hobby in the world was 
standing for Parliament," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "They 
said the last unsuccessful candidate at Middlemarch — Giles, 
was n't his name ? — spent ten thousand pounds and failed 
because he did not bribe enou2:h. What a bitter reflection for 



f " 



a man i 

"Somebody was saying," said the Rector, laughingly, "that 
East Retford was nothing to Middlemarch, for bribery." 

"Nothing of the kind," said Mr. Brooke. "The Tories 
bribe, you know : Hawley and his set bribe with treating, hot 
codlings, and that sort of thing ; and they bring the voters 



400 MIDDLEMARCH. 

drunk to the poll. But they are not going to have it their 
own way in future — not in future, you know. Mid die march 
is a little backward, I admit — the freemen are a little back- 
ward. But we shall educate them — we shall bring them ou, 
you know. The best people there are on our side." 

"Hawley says you have men on your side who will do you 
harm/' remarked Sir James. " He says Bulstrode the banker 
will do you harm." 

"And that if you got pelted," interposed Mrs. Cadwallader, 
" half the rotten eggs would mean hatred of your committee- 
man. Good heavens ! Think what it must be to be pelted 
for wrong opinions. And I seem to remember a story of a 
man they pretended to chair and let him fall into a dust-heap 
on purpose ! " 

" Pelting is nothing to their finding holes in one's coat," 
said the Eector. " I confess that 's what I should be afraid 
of, if we parsons had to stand at the hustings for preferment. 
I should be afraid of their reckoning up all my fishing days. 
Upon my word, I think the truth is the hardest missile one 
can be pelted with." 

"The fact is," said Sir James, "if a man goes into public 
life he must be prepared for the consequences. He must make 
himself proof against calumny." 

" My dear Chettam, that is all very fine, you know," said 
Mr. Brooke. " But how will you make yourself proof against 
calumny ? You should read history — look at ostracism, per- 
secution, martyrdom, and that kind of thing. They always 
happen to the best men, you know. But what is that in 
Horace? — fiat justitia, mat . . . something or other." 

"Exactly," said Sir James, with a little more heat than 
usual. "What I mean by being proof against calumny is 
being able to point to the fact as a contradiction." 

" And it is not martyrdom to pay bills that one has run 
into one's self," said Mrs. Cadwallader. 

But it was Sir James's evident annoyance that most stirred 
Mr. Brooke. " Well, you know, Chettam," he . said, rising, 
taking up his hat and leaning on his stick, "you and I have 
a different system. You are all for outlay with your farms. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 401 

I don't want to make out that my system is good under all 
circumstances — under all circumstances, you know.'^ 

" There ought to be a new valuation made from time to 
time," said Sir James. " Returns are very well occasionally, 
but I like a fair valuation. AVhat do you say, Cadwallader ? " 

" I agree with you. If I were Brooke, I would choke the 
' Trumpet ' at once by getting Garth to make a new valuation 
of the farms, and giving him carte hlanche about gates and 
repairs : that 's my view of the political situation," said the 
Kector, broadening himself by sticking his thumbs in his 
armholes, and laughing towards Mr. Brooke. 

"That's a showy sort of thing to do, you know," said Mr. 
Brooke. " But I should like you to tell me of another land- 
lord who has distressed his tenants for arrears as little as I 
have. I let the old tenants stay on. I 'm uncommonly eas}", 
let me tell 3'ou — uncommonly easy. I have my own ideas, 
and I take my stand on them, you know. A man who does 
that is always charged with eccentricity, inconsistency, and 
that kind of thing. When I change my line of action, I shall 
follow my own ideas." 

After that, Mr. Brooke remembered that there was a packet 
which he had omitted to send off from the Grange, and he 
bade everybody hurriedly good-by. 

"I did n't want to take a liberty with Brooke," said Sir 
James ; " I see he is nettled. But as to what he says about 
old tenants, in point of fact no new tenant would take the 
farms on the present terms." 

" I have a notion that he will be brought round in time," 
said the Rector. " But you were pulling one way, Elinor, 
and we were pulling another. You wanted to frighten him 
away from expense, and we want to frighten him into it. 
Better let him try to be popular and see that his character as 
a landlord stands in his way. I don't think it signifies two 
straws about the 'Pioneer,' or Ladislaw, or Brooke's speechify- 
ing to the Middlemarchers. But it does signify about the 
parishioners in Tipton being comfortable." 

" Excuse me, it is you two who are on the wrong tack," 
said Mrs. Cadwallader. " You should have proved to him 
VOL. VII. 26 



402 MIDDLEMARCH. 

that he loses money by bad management, and then we should 
all have pulled together. If you put him a-horseback on poli- 
ticSj I warn you of the consequences. It w^as all very well to 
ride on sticks at home and call them ideas." 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

If, as I have, you also doe, 

Vertue attired in woman see, 
And dare love tliat, and say so too, 

And forget the He and IShe ; 

And if this love, though placed so. 

From prophane men you hide, 
Which will no faith on this bestow, 

Or, if they doe, deride : 

Then Von have done a braver thing 

Than all the Worthies did, 
And a braver thence will spring. 

Which is, to keep that hid. 

Dr. Donne. 

Sir James Chettam's mind was not fruitful in devices, 
but his growing anxiety to '^ act on Brooke," once brought 
close to his constant belief in Dorothea's capacity for influence, 
became formative, and issued in a little plan ; namely, to plead 
Celia's indisposition as a reason for fetching Dorothea by her- 
self to the Hall, and to leave her at the Grange with the 
carriage on the way, after making her fully aware of the 
situation concerning the management of the estate. 

In this way it happened that one day near four o'clock, 
when Mr. Brooke and Ladislaw were seated in the library, the 
door opened and Mrs. Casaubon was announced. 

Will, the moment before, had been low in the depths of 
boredom, and, obliged to help Mr. Brooke in arranging " docu- 
ments " about hanging sheep-stealers, was exemplifying the 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 403 

jjower our minds have of riding several horses at once by 
inwardly arranging measures towards getting a lodging for 
himself in Middlemarch and cutting short his constant resi- 
dence at the Grange ; while there flitted through all these 
steadier images a tickling vision of a sheep-stealing epic 
written with Homeric particularity. When Mrs. Casaubon 
was announced he started up as from an electric shock, and 
felt a tingling at his finger-ends. Any one observing him 
would have seen a change in his complexion, in the adjustment 
of his facial muscles, in the vividness of his glance, which 
might have made them imagine that every molecule in his 
body had passed the message of a magic touch. And so it 
had. For effective magic is transcendent nature ; and who 
shall measure the subtlety of those touches which convey the 
quality of soul as well as body, and make a man's passion for 
one woman differ from his passion for another as joy in the 
morning light over valley and river and white mountain-top 
differs from joy among Chinese lanterns and glass panels ? 
Will, too, was "made of very impressible stuff. The bow of a 
violin drawn near him cleverly, would at one stroke change 
the aspect of the world for him, and his point of view shifted 
as easily as his mood. Dorothea's entrance was the freshness 
of morning. 

" W^ell, my dear, this is pleasant, now," said Mr. Brooke, 
meeting and kissing her. "You have left Casaubon with his 
books, I suppose. That 's right. We must not have you 
getting too learned for a woman, you know." 

" There is no fear of that, uncle," said Dorothea, turning to 
Will and shaking hands with open cheerfulness, while she 
made no other form of greeting, but went on answering her 
uncle. " I am very slow. When I want to be busy with 
books, I am often playing truant among my thoughts. I find 
it is not so easy to be learned as to plan cottages." 

She seated herself beside her uncle opposite to Will, and 
was evidently preoccupied with something that made her 
almost unmindful of him. He was ridiculously disappointed, 
as if he had imagined that her coming had anything to do 
with him. 



404 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Why, yes, my dear, it was quite youT hobby to draw plans. 
But it was good to break that off a little. Hobbies are apt 
to run away with us, you know ; it does n't do to be run away 
with. We must keep the reins. I have never let myself be 
run away with ; I alwa3^s pulled up. That is what I tell 
Ladislaw. He and I are alike, you know : he likes to go into 
everything. We are working at capital punishment. We 
shall do a great deal together, Ladislaw and I.'' 

"Yes," said Dorothea, with characteristic directness, "Sir 
James has been telling me that he is in hope of seeing a great 
change made soon in your management of the estate — that 
you are thinking of having the farms valued, and repairs made, 
and the cottages improved, so that Tipton may look quite 
another place. Oh, how happy ! " — she went on, clasping her 
hands, with a return to that more childlike impetuous manner, 
which had been subdued since her marriage. '• If I were at 
home still, I should take to riding again, that I might go about 
with you and see all that ! And you are going to engage Mr. 
Garth, who praised my cottages, Sir James says." 

" Chettam is a little hasty, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, color- 
ing slightly ; " a little hasty, you know. I never said I should 
do anything of the kind. I never said I should not do it, you 
know." 

" He only feels confident that you will do it," said Dorothea, 
in a voice as clear and unhesitating as that of a young choris- 
ter chanting a credo, " because you mean to enter Parliament 
as a member who cares for the improvement of the people, and 
one of the first things to be made better is the state of the 
land and the laborers. Think of Kit Dovvnes, uncle, who lives 
with his wife and seven children in a house with one sitting- 
room and one bedroom hardly larger than this table ! — and 
those poor Dagleys, in their tumble-down farmhouse, where 
they live in the back kitchen and leave the other rooms to the 
rats ! That is one reason why I did not like the pictures here, 
dear uncle — which you think me stupid about. I used to 
come from the village with all that dirt and coarse ugliness 
like a pain within me, and the simpering pictures in the draw- 
ing-room seemed to me like a wicked attempt to find delight 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 405 

in wliat is false, while we don't mind how hard the truth is for 
the neighbors outside our walls. I think we have no right to 
come forward and urge wider changes for good, until we have 
tried to alter the evils which lie under our own hands." 

Dorothea had gathered emotion as she went on, and had 
forgotten everything except the relief of pouring forth her 
feelings, unchecked : an experience once habitual with her, but 
hardly ever present since her marriage, which had been a per- 
petual struggle of energy with fear. For the moment, Will's 
admiration was accompanied with a chilling sense of remote- 
ness. A man is seldom ashamed of feeling that he cannot 
love a woman so well when he sees a certain greatness in her : 
nature having intended greatness for men. But nature has 
sometimes made sad oversights in carrying out her intention ; 
as in the case of good Mr. Brooke, whose masculine conscious- 
ness was at this moment in rather a stammering condition 
under the eloquence of his niece. He could not immediately 
find any other mode of expressing himself than that of rising, 
fixing his eye-glass, and fingering the papers before him. At 
last he said — 

" There is something in what you say, my dear, something 
in what you say — but not everything — eh, Ladislavv ? You 
and I don't like our pictures and statues being found fault 
with. Young ladies are a little ardent, you know — a little 
one-sided, my dear. Fine art, poetry, that kind of thing, ele- 
vates a nation — evioUlt mores — you understand a little Latin 
now. But — eh ? what ? " 

These interrogatives were addressed to the footman who had 
come in to say that the keeper had found one of Dagley's boys 
with a leveret in his hand just killed. 

" I '11 come, I '11 come. I shall let him off easily, you 
know," said Mr. Brooke aside to Dorothea, shuffling away very 
cheerfully. 

"I hope you feel how right this change is that I — that Sir 
James wishes for," said Dorothea to Will, as soon as her uncle 
was gone. 

" I do, now I have heard you speak about it. I shall not 
forget what you have said. But can you think of something 



406 MIDDLEMARCH. 

else at this moment ? I may not have another opportunity 
of speaking to you about what has occurred," said Will, rising 
with a movement of impatience, and holding the back of his 
chair with both hands. 

"Pray tell me what it is," said Dorothea, anxiously, also 
rising and going to the open window, where Monk was look- 
ing in, panting and wagging his tail. She leaned her back 
against the window-frame, and laid her hand on the dog's 
head ; for though, as we know, she was not fond of pets that 
must be held in the hands or trodden on, she was always atten- 
tive to the feelings of dogs, and very polite if she had to de- 
cline their advances. 

Will followed her only with his eyes and said, " I presume 
you know that Mr. Casaubon has forbidden me to go to his 
house." 

"No, I did not," said Dorothea, after a moment's pause. 
She was evidently much moved. " I am very, very sorry," she 
added, mournfully. She was thinking of what Will had no 
knowledge of — the conversation between her and her husband 
in the darkness ; and she was anew smitten with hopelessness 
that she could influence Mr. Casaubon's action. But the 
marked expression of her sorrow convinced Will that it was 
not all given to him personally, and that Dorothea had not 
been visited by the idea that Mr. Casaubon's dislike and jeal- 
ousy of him turned upon herself. He felt an odd mixture of 
delight and vexation : of delight that he could dwell and be 
cherished in her thought as in a pure home, without suspicion 
and without stint — of vexation because he was of too little 
account with her, was not formidable enough, was treated with 
an unhesitating benevolence which did not flatter him. But 
his dread of any change in Dorothea was stronger than his 
discontent, and he began to speak again in a tone of mere 
explanation. 

" Mr. Casaubon's reason is, his displeasure at my taking a 
position here which he considers unsuited to my rank as his 
cousin. I have told him that I cannot give way on this point. 
It is a little too hard on me to expect that my course in life is 
to be hampered by prejudices which I think ridiculous. Obli- 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 407 

gation may be stretched till it is no better than a brand of 
slavery stamped on us when we were too young to know its 
meaning. I would not have accepted the position if I had not 
meant to make it useful and honorable. I am not bound to 
regard family dignity in any other light." 

Dorothea felt wretched. She thought her husband alto- 
gether in the wrong, on more grounds than Will had men- 
tioned. 

"It is better for us not to speak on the subject," she said, 
with a tremulousness not common in her voice, "since you and 
Mr. Casaubon disagree. You intend to remain ? " She was 
looking out on the lawn, with melanchol}^ meditation. 

" Yes ; but I shall hardly ever see you now," said Will, in a 
tone of almost boyish complaint. 

"Xo," said Dorothea, turning her eyes full upon him, 
" hardly ever. But I shall hear of you. I shall know what 
you are doing for my uncle." 

" I shall know hardly anything about you," said Will. " No 
one will tell me anything." 

"Oh, my life is very simple," said Dorothea, her lips curling 
with an exquisite smile, which irradiated her melancholy. "I 
am always at Lowick." 

"That is a dreadful imprisonment," said Will, impetuously. 

"No, don't think that," said Dorothea. "I have no 
longings." 

He did not speak, but she replied to some change in his ex- 
pression. " I mean, for myself. Except that I should like 
not to have so much more than my share without doing any- 
thing for others. But I have a belief of my own, and it com- 
forts me." 

" What is that ? " said Will, rather jealous of the belief. 

"' That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we 
don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we 
are part of the divine power against evil — widening the skirts 
of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower." 

"' That is a beautiful mysticism — it is a — " 

" Please not to call it by any name," said Dorothea, putting 
out her hands entreatingly. " You will say it is Persian, or 



408 MIDULEMARCH. 

something else geogTapliical. It is my life. I have found it 
out, and cannot part with it. I have always been finding out 
my religion since I was a little girl. I used to pray so much — 
now I hardly ever pray. I try not to have desires merely for 
myself, because they may not be good for others, and I have 
too much already. I only told you, that you might know quite 
well how my days go at Lowick." 

" God bless you for telling me ! " said Will, ardently, and 
rather wondering at himself. They were looking at each 
other like two fond children who were talking confidentially 
of birds. 

" What is your religion ? " said Dorothea. " I mean — not 
what you know about religion, but the belief that helps you 
most ? '' 

•' To love what is good and beautiful wdien I see it," said 
Will. " But I am a rebel : I don't feel bound, as you do, to 
submit to wdiat I don't like." 

^' But if you like what is good, that comes to the same thing," 
said Dorothea, smiling. 

" Now you are subtle," said Will. 

"Yes; Mr. Casaubon often says I am too subtle. I don't 
feel as if I were subtle," said Dorothea, playfully. "But how 
long my uncle is ! I must go and look for him. I must really 
go on to the Hall. Celia is expecting me." 

Will offered to tell Mr. Brooke, who presently came and 
said that he would step into the carriage and go with Dorothea 
as far as Dagley's, to speak about the small delinquent who 
had been caught with the leveret. Dorothea renew^ed the sub- 
ject of the estate as they drove along, but Mr. Brooke, not 
being taken unawares, got the talk under his own control. 

" Chettam, now," he replied ; " he finds fault with me, my 
dear ; but I should not preserve my game if it were not for 
Chettam, and he can't say that that expense is for the sake of 
the tenants, you know. It 's a little against my feeling : — 
poaching, now, if you come to look into it — I have often 
thought of getting up the subject. Not long ago, Flavell, the 
Methodist preacher, was brought up for knocking down a hare 
that came across his path when he and his wife w^ere walking 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 409 

out together. He was pretty quick, aud knocked it ou the 
oeck." 

" That was very brutal, I think," said Dorothea. 

"Well, now, it seemed rather black to me, I confess, in a 
Methodist preacher, you know. And Johnson said, '■ You may 
judge what a hypoc?'iVe he is.' And upon my word, I thought 
Flavell looked very little like ' the highest style of man ' — as 
somebody calls the Christian — Young, the poet Young, I 
think — you know Young ? Well, now, Flavell in his shabby 
black gaiters, pleading that he thought the Lord had sent him 
and his wife a good dinner, and he had a right to knock it 
down, though not a mighty hunter before the Lord, as Nimrod 
was — I assure you it was rather comic : Fielding would have 
made something of it — or Scott, now — Scott might have 
worked it up. But really, when 1 came to think of it, I 
could n't help liking that the fellow should have a bit of hare 
to say grace over. It 's all a matter of prejudice — prejudice 
with the law on its side, you know — about the stick and the 
gaiters, and so on. However, it does n't do to reason about 
things ; and law is hnv. But 1 got Johnson to be quiet, and I 
hushed the matter up. 1 doubt whether Chettam would not 
have been more severe, and yet he comes down on me as if I 
were the hardest man in the county. But here we are at 
Dagley's." 

Mr. Brooke got down at a farmyard-gate, and Dorothea 
drove on. It is wonderful how much uglier things will look 
when we only suspect that we are blamed for them. Even 
our own persons in the glass are apt to change their aspect for 
us after we have heard some frank remark on their less ad- 
mirable points ; and on the other hand it is astonishing how 
pleasantly conscience takes our encroachments on those who 
never complain or have nobody to complain for them. Dag- 
ley's homestead never before looked so dismal to Mr. Brooke 
as it did to-day, with his mind thus sore about the fault-finding 
of the " Trumpet," echoed by Sir James. 

It is true that an observer, under that softening influence of 
the fine arts which makes other people's hardships picturesque, 
mii{ht have been delighted with this homestead called Free- 



■■&' 



410 MIDDLEMARCH. 

man's End : the old house had dormer-windows in the dark- 
red roof, two of the chimneys were choked with ivy, the large, 
porch was blocked up with bundles of sticks, and half the 
windows were closed with gray worm-eaten shutters about 
which the jasmine-boughs grew in wild luxuriance ; the moul- 
dering garden wall with hollyhocks peeping over it was a per- 
fect study of highly mingled subdued color, and there was an 
aged goat (kept doubtless on interesting superstitious grounds) 
lying against the open back-kitchen door. The mossy thatch 
of the cow-shed, the broken gray barn-doors, the pauper labor- 
ers in ragged breeches who had nearly finished unloading a 
wagon of corn into the barn ready for early thrashing ; the 
scanty dairy of cows being tethered for milking and leaving 
one half of the shed in brown emptiness ; the very pigs and 
white ducks seeming to wander about the uneven neglected 
yard as if in low spirits from feeding on a too meagre quality 
of rinsings, — all these objects under the quiet light of a sky 
marbled with high clouds would have made a sort of picture 
which we have all paused over as a " charming bit," touching 
other sensibilities than those which are stirred by the depres- 
sion of the agricultural interest, with the sad lack of farming 
capita], as seen constantly in the newspapers of that time. 
But these troublesome associations were . just now strongly 
present to Mr. Brooke, and spoiled the scene for him. Mr. 
Dagley himself made a figure in the landscape, carrying a 
pitchfork and wearing his milking-hat — a very old beaver 
flattened in front. His coat and breeches were the best he 
had, and he would not have been wearing them on this week- 
day occasion if he had not been to market and returned later 
than usual, having given himself the rare treat of dining at 
the public table of the Blue Bull. How he came to fall into 
this extravagance would perhaps be matter of wonderment to 
himself on the morrow ; but before dinner something in the 
state of the country, a slight pause in the harvest before the 
Far Dips Vv^ere cut, the stories about the new King and 
the numerous handbills on the walls, had seemed to warrant a 
little recklessness. It was a maxim about Middlemarch, 
and regarded as self-evident, that good meat should have good 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 411 

drink, which last Dagley interpreted as plenty of table ale 
well followed up by rum-and-water. These liquors have so 
far truth in thern that they were not false enough to make 
poor Dagley seem merry : they only made his discontent less 
tongue-tied than usual. He had also taken too much in the 
shape of muddy political talk, a stimulant dangerously disturb- 
ing to his farming conservatism, which consisted in holding 
that whatever is, is bad, and any change is likely to be worse. 
He was flushed, and his eyes had a decidedly quarrelsome 
stare as he stood still grasping his pitchfork, while the land- 
lord approached with his easy shuffling walk, one hand in his 
trouser-pocket and the other swinging round a thin walking- 
stick. 

"Dagley, my good fellow," began Mr. Brooke, conscious 
that he was going to be very friendly about the boy. 

" Oh, ay, I 'm a good feller, am I ? Thank ye, sir, thank 
ye," said Dagley, with a loud snarling irony which made Fag 
the sheep-dog stir from his seat and prick his ears ; but seeing 
Monk enter the yard after some outside loitering, Fag seated 
himself again in an attitude of observation. ''I'm glad to 
hear I 'm a good feller." 

Mr. Brooke reflected that it was market-day, and that his 
worthy tenant had probably been dining, but saw no reason 
why he should not go on, since he could take the precaution 
of repeating what he had to say to Mrs. Dagley. 

" Your little lad Jacob has been caught killing a leveret, 
Dagley : I have told Johnson to lock him up in the empty 
stable an hour or two, just to frighten him, you know. But 
he will be brought home by-and-by, before night : and you '11 
just look after him, will you, and give him a reprimand, you 
know ? " 

" No, I woon't : I '11 be dee'd if I '11 leather my boy to 
please you or anybody else, not if you was twenty landlords 
istid o' one, and that a bad un." 

Dagley's words were loud enough to summon his wife to the 
back-kitchen door — the only entrance ever used, and one 
always open except in bad weather — and Mr. Brooke, saying 
soothingly, "Well, well, I'll speak to your wife — I didn't 



412 MIDDLEMARCH. 

mean beating, you know/' turned to walk to the house. But 
Dagley, only the more inclined to '^ have his say " with a gen- 
tleman who walked away from him, followed at once, with 
Tag slouching at his heels and sullenly evading some small 
and probably charitable advances on the part of Monk. 

"How do you do, Mrs. Dagley ?" said Mr. Brooke, making 
some haste. " I came to tell you about your boy : I don't 
want you to give him the stick, you know." He was careful 
to speak quite plainly this time. 

Overworked Mrs. Dagley — a thin, worn woman, from whose 
life pleasure had so entirely vanished that she had not even 
any Sunday clothes which could give her satisfaction in pre- 
paring for church — had already had a misunderstanding with 
her husband since he had come home, and was in low spirits, 
expecting the worst. But her husband was beforehand in 
answering. 

"No, nor he woon't hev the stick, whether you want it or 
no," pursued Dagley, throwing out his voice, as if he wanted 
it to hit hard. " You 've got no call to come an' talk about 
sticks o' these primises, as you woon't give a stick tow'rt 
mending. Go to Middlemarch to ax for yott)- charrickter." 

" You 'd far better hold your tongue, Dagley," said the wife, 
" and not kick your own trough over. When a man as is 
father of a family has been an' spent money at market and 
made himself the worse for liquor, he's done enough mischief 
for one day. But I should like to know what my boy's done, 
sir." 

"Niver do you mind what he's done," said Dagley, more 
fiercely, "it's my business to speak, an' not yourn. An' I 
wuU speak, too. I'll hev my say — supper or no. An' what 
I say is, as I 've lived upo' your ground from my father and 
grandfather afore me, an' hev dropped our money into 't, an' 
me an' my children might lie an' rot on the ground for top- 
dressin' as we can't find the money to buy, if the King wasn't 
to put a stop." 

" My good fellow, you 're drunk, you know," said Mr. Brooke, 
confidentially but not judiciously. "Another day, another 
day," he added, turning as if to go. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 413 

But Dagley immediately fronted him, and Fag at his heels 
growled low, as his master's voice grew louder and more in- 
sulting, while Monk also drew close in silent dignified watch. 
The laborers on the wagon were pausing to listen, and it 
seemed wiser to be quite passive than to attempt a ridiculous 
flight pursued by a bawling man. 

^' I 'm no more drunk nor you are, nor so much," said Dagley. 
'' I can carry my liquor, an' I know what I meean. An' I 
meean as the King 'ull put a stop to 't, for them say it as 
knows it, as there 's to be a Rinform, and them landlords as 
never done the right thing by their tenants 'ull be treated i' that 
way as they '11 hev to scuttle off. An' there 's them i' Middle- 
march knows what the Rinform is — an' as knows who '11 
hev to scuttle. Says they, 'I know who your landlord is.' 
An' says I, ' I hope you 're the better for knowin' him, I arn't.' 
Says they, ' He 's a close-fisted un.' ^ Ay, ay,' says L 'He's 
a man for the Rinform,' says they. That's what they says. 
An' I^ made out what the Rinform were — an' it were to send 
you an' your likes a-scuttlin' ; an' wi' i:)retty strong-smellin' 
things too. An' you may do as you like now, for I 'm none 
afeard on you. An' you 'd better let my boy aloan, an' look 
to yoursen, afore the Rinform has got upo' your back. That 's 
what I 'n got to say," concluded Mr. Dagley, striking his fork 
into the ground with a firmness which proved inconvenient as 
he tried to draw it up again. 

At this last action Monk began to bark loudly, and it was a 
moment for ^Ir. Brooke to escape. He walked out of the yard 
as quickly as he could, in some amazement at the novelt}^ of 
his situation. He had never been insulted on his own land 
before, and had been inclined to regard himself as a general 
favorite (we are all apt to do so, when we think of our own 
amiability more than of what other people are likely to want 
of us). When he had quarrelled with Caleb Garth twelve 
years before he had thought that the tenants would be pleased 
at the landlord's taking everything into his own hands. 

Some who follow the narrative of his experience may won- 
der at the midnight darkness of Mr. Dagley ; but nothing was 
easier in those times than for an hereditary farmer of his 



414 MIDDLEMARCH. 

grade to be ignorant, in spite somehow of having a rector in 
the twin parish who was a gentleman to the backbone, a curate 
nearer at hand who preached more learnedly than the rector, 
a landlord who had gone into everything, especially fine art 
and social improvement, and all the lights of Middlemarch 
only three miles off. As to the facility with which mortals 
escape knowledge, try an average acquaintance in the intellec- 
tual blaze of London, and consider what that eligible person 
for a dinner-party would have been if he had learned scant 
skill in "summing" from the parish-clerk of Tipton, and read 
a chapter in the Bible with immense difficulty, because such 
names as Isaiah or Apollos remained unmanageable after twice 
spelling. Poor Dagley read a few verses sometimes on a Sun- 
day evening, and the world was at least not darker to him 
than it had been before. Some things he knew thoroughly, 
namely, the slovenly habits of farming, and the awkwardness 
of weather, stock and crops, at Freeman's End — so called 
apparently by way of sarcasm, to imply that a man was free 
to quit it if he chose, but that there was no earthly "beyond" 
open to him. 



CHAPTER XL. 

" Wise in his daily work was he : 

To fruits of diligence, 
And not to faiths or polity, 

He plied liis utmost sense. 
These perfect in their little parts, 

Whose work is all their prize — 
Without them how could laws, or arts, 

Or tOAvered cities rise ? " 

In" watching effects, if only of an electric battery, it is often 
necessary to change our place and examine a particular mix- 
ture or group at some distance from the point where the move- 
ment we are interested in was set up. The group I am moving 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 415 

towards is at Caleb Garth's breakfast-table in the large parlor 
where the maps and desk were : father, mother, and five of the 
children. Mary was just now at home waiting for a situation, 
while Christy, the boy next to her, was getting cheap learning 
and cheap fare in Scotland, having to his father's disappoint- 
ment taken to books instead of that sacred calling " business." 

The letters had come — nine costly letters, for which the 
postman had been paid three and twopence, and Mr. Garth 
was forgetting his tea and toast while he read his letters and 
laid them open one above the other, sometimes swaying his 
head slowly, sometimes screwing up his mouth in inward de- 
bate, but not forgetting to cut off a large red seal unbroken, 
which Letty snatched up like an eager terrier. 

The talk among the rest went on unrestrainedly^, for nothing 
disturbed Caleb's absorption except shaking the table when he 
was writing. 

Two letters of the nine had been for Mary. After reading 
them, she had passed them to her mother, and sat playing 
with her tea-spoon absently, till with a sudden recollection she 
returned to her sewing, which she had kept on her lap during 
breakfast. 

"Oh, don't sew, Mary!" said Ben, pulling her arm down. 
" Make me a peacock with this bread-crumb." He had been 
kneading a small mass for the purpose. 

"No, no, Mischief! " said Mary, good-humoredly, while she 
pricked his hand lightly with her needle. " Try and mould it 
yourself : you have seen me do it often enough. I must get 
this sewing done. It is for Eosamond Vincy : she is to be 
married next week, and she can't be married without this 
handkerchief." Mary ended merrily, amused with the last 
notion. 

"Why can't she, Mary?" said Letty, seriously interested 
in this mystery, and pushing her head so close to her sister 
that Mary now turned the threatening needle towards Letty's 
nose. 

" Because this is one of a dozen, and without it there would 
only be eleven," said Mary, with a grave air of explanation, so 
that Letty sank back with a sense of knowledge. 



416 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Have you made up your mind, my dear ? " said Mrs. Garth, 
laying the letters down. 

" I shall go to the school at York," said Mary. " I am less 
unfit to teach in a school than in a famil}^ I like to teach 
classes best. And^ you see, I must teach: there is nothing 
else to be done." 

"Teaching seems to me the most delightful work in the 
world," said Mrs. Garth, with a touch of rebuke in her tone. 
"I could understand your objection to it if you had not knowl- 
edge enough, Mary, or if you disliked children." 

" I suppose we never quite understand why another dislikes 
what we like, mother," said Mary, rather curtly. " I am not 
fond of a schoolroom : I like the outside world better. It is a 
very inconvenient fault of mine." 

" It must be very stupid to be always in a girls' school," 
said Alfred. " Such a set of nincompoops, like Mrs. Ballard's 
pupils walking two and two." 

"And they have no games worth playing at," said Jim. 
" They can neither throw nor leap. I don't wonder at Mary's 
not liking it." 

"What is that Mary doesn't like, eh?" said the father, 
looking over his spectacles and pausing before he opened his 
next letter. 

" Being among a lot of nincompoop girls," said Alfred. 

" Is it the situation you had heard of, Mary ? " said Caleb, 
gently, looking at his daughter. 

" Yes, father : the school at York. I have determined to 
take it. It is quite the best. Thirty-five pounds a-year, and 
extra pay for teaching the smallest strummers at the piano." 

" Poor child ! I wish she could stay at home with us, 
Susan," said Caleb, looking plaintively at his wife. 

" Mary Avould not be happy without doing her duty," said 
Mrs. Garth, magisterially, conscious of having done her own. 

"It wouldn't make me happy to do such a nasty duty as 
that," said Alfred — at which Mary and her father laughed 
silently, but Mrs. Garth said, gravely — 

"Do find a fitter word than nasty, my dear Alfred, for 
everything that you think disagreeable. And suppose that 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 417 

Mary could help you to go to Mr. Hanmer's with the money 
she gets ? '' 

" That seems to me a great shame. But she 's an old 
brick," said Alfred, rising from his chair, and pulling Mary's 
head backward to kiss her. 

Mary colored and laughed, but could not conceal that the 
tears were coming. Caleb, looking on over his spectacles, 
with the angles of his eyebrows falling, had an expression of 
mingled delight and sorrow as he returned to the opening of 
his letter ; and even Mrs. Garth, her lips curling with a calm 
contentment, allowed that inappropriate language to pass 
without correction, although Ben immediately took it up, and 
sang, " She 's an old brick, old brick, old brick I" to a canter- 
ing measure, which he beat out with his fist on Mary's arm. 

But Mrs. Garth's eyes were now drawn towards her hus- 
band, who was already deep in the letter he was reading. 
His face had an expression of grave surprise, which alarmed 
her a little, but he did not like to be questioned while he was 
reading, and she remained anxiously watching till she saw 
him suddenly shaken by a little joyous laugh as he turned 
back to the beginning of the letter, and looking at her above 
his spectacles, said, in a low tone, " What do you think, 
Susan ? " 

She went and stood behind him, putting her hand on his 
shoulder, while they read the letter together. It was from 
Sir James Chettam, offering to ]\Ir. Garth the management of 
the family estates at Freshitt and elsewhere, and adding that 
Sir James had been requested by Mr. Brooke of Tipton to 
ascertain whether Mr. Garth would be disposed at the same 
time to resume the agency of the Tipton property. The 
Baronet added in very obliging words that he himself was 
particularly desirous of seeing the Freshitt and Tipton estates 
under the same management, ana he hoped to be able to show 
that the double agency might be held on terms agreeable to 
Mr. Garth, whom he would be glad to see at the Hall at twelve 
o'clock on the following day. 

" He writes handsomely, does n't he, Susan ? " said Caleb, 
turning his eyes upward to his wife, who raised her hand 

VOL. VII. 27 



418 MIDDLEMARCH. 

from his shoulder to his ear, while she rested her chin on his 
head. " Brooke did n't like to ask me himself, I can see," he 
continued, laughing silently. 

" Here is an honor to your father, children," said Mrs. 
Garth, looking round at the five pair of eyes, all fixed on the 
parents. " He is asked to take a post again by those who 
dismissed him long ago. That shows that he did his work 
well, so that they feel the want of him." 

" Like Cincinnatus — hooray ! " said Ben, riding on his 
chair, with a pleasant confidence that discipline was relaxed. 

" Will they come to fetch him, mother ? " said Letty, think- 
ing of the Mayor and Corporation in their robes. 

Mrs. Garth patted Letty's head and smiled, but seeing that 
her husband was gathering up his letters and likely soon to be 
out of reach in that sanctuary "business," she pressed his 
shoulder and said emphatically — 

" Xow, mind you ask fair pay, Caleb." 

" Oh yes," said Caleb, in a deep voice of assent, as if it 
would be unreasonable to suppose anything else of him. 
"It'll come to between four and five hundred, the two to- 
gether." Then with a little start of remembrance he said, 
" Mary, write and give up that school. Stay and help your 
mother. I 'm as pleased as Punch, now I 've thought of 
that." 

No manner could have been less like that of Punch trium- 
phant than Caleb's, but his talents did not lie in finding 
phrases, though he was very particular about his letter-writing, 
and regarded his wife as a treasury of correct language. 

There was almost an uproar among the children now, and 
Mary held up the cambric embroidery towards her mother 
entreatingly, that it might be put out of reach while the boys 
dragged her into a dance. Mrs. Garth, in placid joy, began to 
put the cups and plates together, while Caleb pushing his 
chair from the table, as if he were going to move to the desk, 
still sat holding his letters in his hand and looking on the 
ground meditatively, stretching out the fingers of his left 
hand, according to a mute language of his own. At last he 
said — 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 419 

" It 's a thousand pities Christy did n't take to business, 
Susan. I shall want help by-and-by. And Alfred must go 
off to the engineering — I Ve made up my mind to that." He 
fell into meditation and finger-rhetoric again for a little while, 
and then continued : " I shall make Brooke have new agree- 
ments with the tenants, and I shall draw up a rotation of 
crops. And I '11 lay a wager we can get fine bricks out of 
the clay at Bott's corner. I must look into that : it would 
cheapen the repairs. It 's a fine bit of work, Susan ! A man 
without a family would be glad to do it for nothing." 

"Mind you don't, though," said his wife, lifting up her 
finger. 

" No, no ; but it 's a fine thing to come to a man when he 's 
seen into the nature of business : to have the chance of get- 
ting a bit of the country into good fettle, as they say, and 
putting men into the right way with their farming, and 
getting a bit of good contriving and solid building done — that 
those who are living and those who come after will be the better 
for. I 'd sooner have it than a fortune. I hold it the most 
honorable work that is." Here Caleb laid down his letters, 
thrust his fingers between the buttons of his waistcoat, and 
sat upright, but presently proceeded with some awe in his 
voice and moving his head slowly aside — " It 's a great gift 
of God, Susan." 

"That it is, Caleb," said his wife, with answering fervor. 
"And it will be a blessing to your children to have had a 
father who did such work : a father whose good work remains 
though his nauie may be forgotten." She could not say any 
more to him then about the pay. 

In the evening, when Caleb, rather tired with his day's 
work, was seated in silence with his pocket-book open on his 
knee, while Mrs. Garth and Mary were at their sewing, and 
Letty in a corner was whispering a dialogue with her doll, Mr. 
Farebrother came up the orchard walk, dividing the bright 
August lights and shadows with the tufted grass and the apple- 
tree boughs. We know that he was fond of his parishioners 
the Garths, and had thought Mary worth mentioning to Lyd- 
gate. He used to the full the clergyman's privilege of dis- 



420 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

regarding the Middleniarch discrimination of ranks, and always 
told his mother that Mrs. Garth was more of a lady than any 
matron in the town. Still, you see, he spent his evenings at 
the Vincys', where the matron, though less of a lady, presided 
over a well-lit drawing-room and whist. In those daj^s human 
intercourse was not determined solely by respect. But the 
Vicar did heartily respect the Garths, and a visit from him 
was no surprise to that family. Nevertheless he accounted 
for it even while he v/as shaking hands, by saying, " I come as 
an envoy, Mrs. Garth : I have something to say to you and 
Garth on behalf of Fred Vincy. The fact is, poor fellow," he 
continued, as he seated himself and looked round with his 
bright glance at the three who were listening to him, " he has 
taken me into his confidence." 

Mary's heart beat rather quickly : she wondered how far 
Pred's confidence had gone. 

"We haven't seen the lad for months," said Caleb. "I 
couldn't think what was become of him." 

"He has been away on a visit," said the Vicar, "because 
home was a little too hot for him, and Lydgate told his mother 
that the poor fellow must not begin to study yet. Bat yester- 
day he came and poured himself out to me. I am very glad 
he did, because I have seen him grow up from a youngster of 
fourteen, and I am so much at home in the house that the 
children are like nephews and nieces to me. But it is a difli- 
cult case to advise upon. However, he has asked me to come 
and tell you that he is going away, and that he is so miserable 
about his debt to you, and his inability to pay, that he can't 
bear to come himself even to bid you good-by." 

" Tell him it does n't signify a farthing," said Caleb, waving 
his hand. " We 've had the pinch and have got over it. And 
now I 'm going to be as rich as a Jew." 

"Which means," said Mrs. Garth, smiling at the Vicar, 
"'that we are going to have enough to bring u[) the boys well 
and to keep IMary at home." 

" What is the treasure-trove ? " said Mr. Farebrother. 

" I 'm going to be agent for two estates, Freshitt and Tip- 
ton ; and perhaps for a pretty little bit of land in Lowick 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 421 

besides : it 's all the same family counection, and employment 
spreads like water if it 's once set going. It makes me very 
happy, Mr. Farebrother" — here Caleb threw back his head 
a littlcj and spread his arms on the elbows of his chair — 
"that IVe got an opportunity again with the letting of the 
land, and carrying out a notion or two with improvements. 
It 's a most uncommonly cramping thing, as I 've often told 
Susan, to sit on horseback and look over the hedges at the 
wrong thing, and not be able to put your hand to it to make it 
right. What people do who go into politics I can't think : it 
drives me almost mad to see mismanagement over only a few 
hundred acres." 

It was seldom that Caleb volunteered so long a speech, but 
his happiness had the effect of mountain air: his eyes were 
bright, and the words came without effort. 

<'I congratulate you heartily. Garth," said the Vicar. "This 
is the best sort of news I could have had to carry to Fred 
Vincy, for he dwelt a good deal onllie injury he had done ycu 
in causing you to part with money — robbing you of it, he 
said — which you wanted for other purposes. I wish Fred 
were not such an idle dog ; he has some very good points, and 
his father is a little hard upon him." 

"Where is he going ?" said Mrs. Garth, rather coldly. 

"He means to try again for his degree, and he is going up 
to study before term. I have advised him to do that. I don't 
urge him to enter the Church — on the contrary. But if he 
will go and work so as to i)ass, that will be some guarantee 
that he has energy and a will; and he is quite at sea; he 
doesn't know what else to do. So far he will please his 
father, and I have promised in the mean time to try and recon- 
cile Vincy to his son's adopting some other line of life. Fred 
says frankly he is not fit for a clergyman, and I would do any- 
thing I could to hinder a man from the fatal step of choosing 
the wrong profession. He quoted to me what you said. Miss 
Garth — do you remember it?" (Mr. Farebrother used to 
say " Mary " instead of " Miss Garth," but it was part of his 
delicacy to treat her with the more deference because, accord- 
ing to Mrs. Vincy 's phrase, she worked for her bread.) 



422 MTDDLEMARCH. 

Mary felt uncomfortable, but, determined to take the matter 
lightly, answered at once, " I have said so many impertinent 
things to Fred — we are such old playfellows." 

"You said, according to him, that he would be one of those 
ridiculous clergymen who help to make the whole clergy 
ridiculous. Eeally, that was so cutting that I felt a little cut 
myself." 

Caleb laughed. " She gets her tongue from, you, Susan," he 
said, with some enjoyment. 

"Not its flippancy, father," said Mary, quickly, fearing that 
her mother would be displeased. " It is rather too bad of 
Fred to repeat my flippant speeches to Mr. Farebrother." 

" It was certainly a hasty speech, my dear," said Mrs. Garth, 
with whom speaking evil of dignities was a high misdemeanor. 
" We should not value our Vicar the less because there was 
a ridiculous curate in the next parish." 

"There's something iii what she says, though," said Caleb, 
not disposed to have Mary's sharpness undervalued. " A bad 
workman of any sort makes his fellows mistrusted. Things 
hang together," he added, looking on the floor and moving his 
feet uneasily with a sense that words were scantier than 
thoughts. 

" Clearly," said the Vicar, amused. " By being contemptible 
we set men's minds to the tune of contempt. I certainly 
agree with Miss Garth's view of the matter, whether I am 
condemned by it or not. But as to Fred Vincy, it is only fair 
he should be excused a little: old Featherstone's delusive 
behavior did help to spoil him. There was something quite 
diabolical in not leaving him a farthing after all. But Fred 
has the good taste not to dwell on that. And what he cares 
most about is having offended you, Mrs. Garth ; he supposes 
you will never think well of him again." 

"I have been disappointed in Fred," said Mrs. Garth, with 
decision. " But I shall be ready to think well of him again 
when he gives me good reason to do so." 

At this point Mary went out of the room, taking Lett}- with 
her. 

" Oh, we must forgive young people when they 're sorry," 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 423 

said Caleb, watching Mary close the door. " And as you say, 
Mr. Farebrother, there was the very devil in that old man. 
Now Mary's gone out, I must tell you a thing — it's only 
known to Susan and me, and you '11 not tell it again. The old 
scoundrel wanted Mary to burn one of the wills the very night 
he died, when she was sitting up with him by herself, and he 
offered her a sum of money that he had in the box by him if 
she would do it. But Mary, you understand, could do no such 
thing — would not be handling his iron chest, and so on. 
Now, you see, the will he wanted burnt was this last, so that 
if Mary had done wliat he wanted, Fred Vincy would have 
had ten thousand pounds. The old man did turn to him at 
the last. That touches poor Mary close ; she could n't help it 
— she was in the right to do what she did, but she feels, as 
she says, much as if she had knocked down somebody's prop- 
erty and bioken it against her will, when she was rightfully 
defending herself. I feel with her, somehow, and if I could 
make any amends to the poor lad, instead of bearing him a 
grudge for the harm he did us, I should be glad to do it. 
Now, what is your opinion, sir ? Susan does n't agree with 
me. She says — tell what you say, Susan." 

"Mary could not have acted otherwise, even if she had 
known what would be the effect on Fred," said Mrs. Garth, 
pausing from her work, and looking at Mr. Farebrother. 
"And she was quite ignorant of it. It seems to me, a loss 
which falls on another because we have done right is not to 
lie upon our conscience." 

The Vicar did not answer immediately, and Caleb said, 
"It's the feeling. The child feels in that way, and I feel 
with her. You don't mean your horse to tread on a dog when 
you 're backing out of the way ; but it goes through you, when 
it's done." 

" I am sure Mrs. Garth would agree with you there/' said 
Mr. Farebrother, who for some reason seemed more inclined 
to ruminate than to speak. " One could hardly say that the 
feeling you mention about Fred is wrong — or rather, mis- 
taken — though no man ought to make a claim on such 
feeling." 



424 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Well, well/^ said Caleb ; " it 's a secret. You will not tell 
Fred." 

" Certainly not. But I shall carry the other good news — 
that you can afford the loss he caused you." 

Mr. Farebrother left the house soon after, and seeing Mary 
in the orchard with Letty, went to say good-by to her. They 
made a pretty picture in the western light which brought out 
the brightness of the apples on the old scant-leaved boughs — 
Mary in her lavender gingham and black ribbons holding a 
basket, while Letty in her well-worn nankin picked up the 
fallen apples. If you want to know more particularly how 
Mary looked, ten to one you will see a face like hers in the 
crowded street to-morrow, if you are there on the watch : she 
will not be among those daughters of Zion who are haughty, 
and walk with stretched-out necks and wanton eyes, mincing 
as they go : let all those pass, and fix your eyes on some small 
plump brownish person of firm but quiet carriage, who looks 
about her, but does not suppose that anybody is looking at her. 
If she has a broad face and square brow, well-marked eyebrows 
and curly dark hair, a certain expression of amusement in her 
glance which her mouth keeps the secret of, and for the rest 
features entirely insignificant — take that ordinary but not 
disagreeable person for a portrait of Mary Garth. If you 
made her smile, she would show you perfect little teeth ; if 
you made her angry, she would not raise her voice, but would 
probably say one of the bitterest things you have ever tasted 
the flavor of ; if you did her a kindness, she would never for- 
get it. Mary admired the keen-faced handsome little Vicar in 
his well-brushed threadbare clothes more than any man she 
had had the opportunity of knowing. She had never heard 
him say a foolish thing, though she knew that he did unwise 
ones ; and perhaps foolish sayings were more objectionable to 
her than any of Mr. Farebrother's unwise doings. At least, 
it was remarkable that the actnal imperfections of the Vicar's 
clerical character never seemed to call forth the same scorn 
and dislike which she showed beforehand for the predicted 
imperfections of the clerical character sustained by Fred Vincy. 
These irregularities of judgment, I imagine, are found even in 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 425 

riper minds than Mary Garth's : our impartiality is kept for 
abstract merit and demerit, which none of us ever saw. Will 
any one guess towards which of those widely different men 
Mary had the peculiar woman's tenderness ? — the one she 
was most inclined to be severe on, or the contrary ? 

" Have you any message for your old playfellow, Miss 
Garth ? " said the Vicar, as he took a fragrant apple from the 
basket which she held towards him, and put it in his pocket. 
" Something to soften down that harsh judgment ? I am 
going straight to see him." 

"No," said Mary, shaking her head, and smiling. "If I 
were to say that he would not be ridiculous as a clergyman, 
I must say that he would be something worse than ridiculous. 
But I am very glad to hear that he is going away to w^ork." 

" On the other hand, I am very glad to hear that yoxi are not 
going away to work. My mother, I am sure, will be all the 
happier if you wall come to see her at the vicarage : you know 
she is fond of having 3'oung people to talk to, and she has a 
great deal to tell about old times. You will really be doing a 
kindness." 

" I should like it very much, if I may," said ]\[ary. " Every- 
thing seems too happy for me all at once. I thought it would 
always be part of my life to long for home, and losing that 
grievance makes me feel rather empty : I suppose it served 
instead of sense to fill up my mind?" 

"May I go with you, Mary?" whispered Letty — a most 
inconvenient child, who listened to everything. But she was 
made exultant by having her chin pinched and her cheek 
kissed by Mr. Farebrother — an incident which she narrated 
to her mother and father. 

As the Vicar walked to Lowick, any one watching him 
closely might have seen him twice shrug his shoulders. I 
think that the rare Englishmen who have this gesture are 
never of the heavy type — for fear of any lumbering instance 
to the contrary, I will say, hardly ever ; they have usually a 
fine temperament and much tolerance towards the smaller 
errors of men (themselves inclusive). The Vicar was holding 
an inward dialogue in which he told himself that there was 



426 MIDDLEMARCH. 

probably something more between Fred and Mary Garth than 
the regard of old playfellows, and replied with a question 
whether that bit of womanhood were not a great deal too 
choice for that crude young gentleman. The rejoinder to this 
was the first shrug. Then he laughed at himself for being 
likely to have felt jealous, as if he had been a man able to 
marry, which, added he, it is as clear as any balance-sheet that 
I am not. Whereupon followed the second shrug. 

What could two men, so different from each other, see in 
this " brown patch," as Mary called herself ? It was certainly 
not her plainness that attracted them (and let all plain young 
ladies be warned against the dangerous encouragement given 
them by Society to confide in their want of beauty). A human 
being in this aged nation of ours is a very wonderful whole, the 
slow creation of long interchanging influences ; and charm is a 
result of two such wholes, the one loving and the one loved. 

When Mr. and Mrs. Garth were sitting alone, Caleb said, 
" Susan, guess what I 'm thinking of." 

" The rotation of crops," said Mrs. Garth, smiling at him, 
above her knitting, "or else the back-doors of the Tipton 
cottages." 

"Ko," said Caleb, gravely; "I am thinking that I could do 
a great turn for Fred Vincy. Christy 's gone, Alfred will be 
gone soon, and it will be five years before Jim is ready to take 
to business. I shall want help, and Fred might come in and 
learn the nature of things and act under me, and it might be 
the making of him into a useful man, if he gives up being a 
parson. What do you think ? " 

"I think, there is hardly anything honest that his family 
would object to more," said Mrs. Garth, decidedly. 

" AYhat care I about their objecting ? " said Caleb, with a 
sturdiness which he was apt to show when he had an opinion. 
" The lad is of age and must get his bread. He has sense 
enough and quickness enough ; he likes being on the land, and 
it 's my belief that he could learn business well if he gave his 
mind to it." 

" But would he ? His father and mother wanted him to be 
a fine gentleman, and I think he has the same sort of feeling 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 427 

himself. They all think us beneath them. And if the pro 
posal came from you, I am sure :\rrs. Vincy would say that we 
wanted Fred for ^Lary." 

" Life is a poor tale, if it is to be settled by nonsense of that 
sort," said Caleb, with disgust. 

" Yes, but there is a certain pride which is proper, Caleb." 

" I call it improper pride to let fools' notions hinder you 
from doing a good action. There's no sort of work," said 
Caleb, with fervor, putting out his hand and moving it up and 
down to mark his emphasis, " that could ever be done well, if 
you minded what fools say. You must have it inside you that 
your plan is right, and that plan you must follow." 

"I will not oppose any i)lan you have set your mind on, 
Caleb," said Mrs. Garth, who was a firm woman, but knew 
that there were some points on which her mild husband was 
yet firmer. " Still, it seems to be fixed that Fred is to go back 
to college : will it not be better to wait and see what he will 
choose to do after that ? It is not easy to keep peoi)le against 
their will. And you are not yet quite sure enough of your 
own position, or what you will want." 

" Well, it may be better to wait a bit. But as to my getting 
plenty of work for two, I 'm pretty sure of that. I 've always 
had my hands full with scattered things, and there 's always 
something fresh turning up. Why, only yesterday — bless me, 
I don't think I told you ! — it was rather odd that two men 
should have been at me on different sides to do the same bit 
of valuing. And who do you think they were ? " said Caleb, 
taking a ])inch of snuff and holding it up between his fingers, 
as if it were a part of his exposition. He was fond of a pinch 
when it occurred to him, but he usually forgot that this indul- 
gence was at his command. 

His wife held down her knitting and looked attentive. 

" Why, that Rigg, or Rigg Featherstone, was one. But Bul- 
strode was before him, so I 'm going to do it for Bulstrode. 
Whether it 's mortgage or purchase they 're going for, I can't 
tell yet." 

" Can that man be going to sell the land just left him — 
which he has taken the name for ? " said Mrs. Garth. 



428 MlDDLExMARCH. 

" Deuce knows," said Caleb, who never referred the knowl- 
edge of discreditable doings to any higher power than the 
deuce. " But Bulstrode has long been wanting to get a hand- 
some bit of land under his fingers — that I know. And it 's a 
difficult matter to get, in this part of the countr}^" 

Caleb scattered his snuff carefully instead of taking it, and 
then added, "The ins and outs of things are curious. Here is 
the land they 've been all along expecting for Fred, which it 
seems the old man never meant to leave him a foot of, but 
left it to this side-slip of a son that he kept in the dark, and 
thought of his sticking there and vexing everybody as well as 
he could have vexed 'em himself if he could have kept alive. 
I say, it would be curious if it got into Bulstrode's hands after 
all. The old man hated him, and never would bank with 
him." 

" What reason could the miserable creature have for hating 
a man whom he had nothing to do with ? " said Mrs. Garth. 

" Pooh ! where 's the use of asking for such fellows' reasons ? 
The soul of man," said Caleb, with the deep tone and grave 
shake of the head which always came when he used this 
phrase — " The soul of man, when it gets fairly rotten, will 
bear you all sorts of poisonous toad-stools, and no eye can see 
whence came the seed thereof." 

It was one of Caleb's quaintnesses, that in his difficulty of 
finding speech for his thought, he caught, as it were, snatches 
of diction which he associated with various points of view or 
states of mind ; and whenever he had a feeling of awe, he was 
haunted by a sense of Biblical phraseology, though he could 
hardly have given a strict quotation. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 



CHAPTER XLL 

By swaggerino; could I never thrive, 
For the rain it raiueth every day. 



429 



Tioetjth Night. 



The transactions referred to by Caleb Garth as having gone 
forward between Mr. Bulstrode and Mr. Joshua Rigg Feather- 
stone concerning the land attached to Stone Court, had oc- 
casioned the interchange of a letter or two between these 
personages. 

Who shall tell what may be the effect of writing ? If it 
happens to have been cut in stone, though it lie face down- 
most for ages on a forsaken beach, or " rest quietly under the 
drums and tramplings of many conquests," it may end by 
letting us into the secret of usurpations and other scandals 
gossiped about long empires ago : — this world being appar- 
ently a huge whispering-gallery. Such conditions are often 
minutely represented in our petty lifetimes. As the stone 
which has been kicked by generations of clowns may come 
by curious little links of effect under the eyes of a scholar, 
through whose labors it may at last fix the date of invasions 
and unlock religions, so a bit of ink and paper which has long 
been an innocent wrapping or stop-gap may at last be laid 
open under the one pair of eyes which have knowledge enough 
to turn it into the opening of a catastrophe. To Uriel watching 
the progress of planetary history from the sun, the one result 
would be just as much of a coincidence as the other. 

Having made this rather lofty comparison I am less uneasy 
in calling attention to the existence of low people by whose 
interference, however little we may like it, the course of the 
world is very much determined. It would be well, certainly, 
if we could help to reduce their number, and something might 
perhaps be done by not lightly giving occasion to their exist- 
ence. Socially speaking, Joshua Rigg would have been gen- 
erally pronounced a superfluity. But those who like Peter 



430 MIDDLEMARCH. 

Featherstone never had a copy of themselves demanded, are 
the very last to wait for such a request either in prose or 
verse. The copy in this case bore more of outside resem- 
blance to the mother, in whose sex frog-features, accompanied 
with fresh-colored cheeks and a well-rounded figure, are com- 
patible with much charm for a certain order of admirers. The 
result is sometimes a frog-faced male, desirable, surely, to no 
order of intelligent beings. Especially when he is suddenly 
brought into evidence to frustrate other people's expectations 
— the very lowest aspect in which a social superfluity can 
present himself. 

But Mr. Eigg Featherstone's low characteristics were all 
of the sober, water-drinking kind. From the earliest to the 
latest hour of the day he was always as sleek, neat, and cool 
as the frog he resembled, and old Peter had secretly chuckled 
over an offshoot almost more calculating, and far more imper- 
turbable, than himself. I will add that his finger-nails were 
scrupulously attended to, and that he meant to marry a well- 
educated young lady (as yet unspecified) whose person was 
good, and whose connections, in a solid middle-class way, were 
undeniable. Thus his nails and modesty were comparable 
to those of most gentlemen ; though his ambition had been 
educated only by the opportunities of a clerk and accountant 
in the smaller commercial houses of a seaport. He thought 
the rural Featherstones very simple absurd people, and they 
in their turn regarded his " bringing up " in a seaport town 
as an exaggeration of the monstrosity that their brother 
Peter, and still more Peter's property, should have had such 
belongings. 

The garden and gravel approach, as seen from the two 
windows of the wainscoted parlor at Stone Court, were never 
in better trim than now, wiien Mr. Eigg Featherstone stood, 
with his hands behind him, looking out on these grounds as 
their master. But it seemed doubtful whether he looked out 
for the sake of contemplation or of turning his back to a 
person who stood in the middle of the room, with his legs 
considerably apart and his hands in his trouser-pockets : a 
person in all respects a contrast to the sleek and cool Rigg. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 431 

He was a man obviously on the way towards sixty, very florid 
and hairy, with much gray in his bushy whiskers and thick curly 
hair, a stoutish body which showed to disadvantage the some- 
what worn joinings of his clothes, and the air of a swaggerer, 
v/ho would aim at being noticeable even at a show of fireworks, 
regarding his own remarks on any other person's performance 
as likely to be more interesting than the performance itself. 

His name was John Raffles, and he sometimes wrote jocosely 
W.A.G. after his signature, observing when he did so, that he 
was once taught by Leonard Lamb of Finsbury who wrote 
B.A. after his name, and that he, Raffles, originated the witti- 
cism of calling that celebrated principal Ba-Lamb. Such were 
the appearance and meutal flavor of Mr. Raffles, both of which 
seemed to have a stale odor of travellers' rooms in the com- 
mercial hotels of that period. 

" Come, now. Josh,*' he was saying, in a full rumbling tone, 
" look at it in this light : here is your poor mother going into 
the vale of years, and you could afford something handsome 
now to make her comfortable." 

"Not while you live. Nothing would make her comfort- 
able while you live," returned Rigg, in his cool high voice. 
" What I give her, you '11 take." 

"You bear me a grudge, Josh, that I know. But come, 
now — as between man and man — without humbug — a little 
capital might enable me to make a first-rate thing of the shop. 
The tobacco trade is growing. I should cut my own nose off 
in not doing the best I could at it. I should stick to it like a 
flea to a fleece for my own sake. I should always be on the 
spot. And nothing would make your poor mother so happy. 
I've pretty well done with my wildcats — turned fifty-five. 
I want to settle down in my chimney-corner. And if I once 
buckled to the tobacco trade, I could bring an amount of 
brains and experience to bear on it that would not be found 
elsewhere in a hurry. I don't want to be bothering you one 
time after another, but to get things once for all into the 
right channel. Consider that, Josh — as between man and 
man — and with your poor mother to be made easy for her 
life. I was always fond of the old woman, hy Jove ! " 



432 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" Have you done ? " said Mr. Rigg, quietly, without looking 
away from the window. 

"Yes, /'ve done," said Eaffles, taking hold of his hat which 
stood before him on the table, and giving it a sort of oratorical 
push. 

" Then just listen to me. The more you say anything, the 
less I shall believe it. The more you want me to do a thing, 
the more reason I shall have for never doing it. Do you 
think I mean to forget your kicking me when I was a lad, and 
eating all the best victual away from me and my mother ? 
Do you think I forget your always coming home to sell and 
pocket everything, and going off again leaving us in the 
lurch ? I should be glad to see you whipped at the cart-tail. 
My mother was a fool to you : she 'd no right to give me a 
father-in-law, and she 's been punished for it. She shall have 
her weekly allowance paid and no more : and that shall be 
stopped if you dare to come on to these premises again, or to 
come into this country after me again. The next time you 
show yourself inside the gates here, you shall be driven off 
with the dogs and the wagoner's whip." 

As Eigg pronounced the last words he turned round and 
looked at Raffles with his prominent frozen eyes. The con- 
trast was as striking as it could have been eighteen years 
before, when Rigg was a most un engaging kickable boy, and 
Raffles was the rather thick-set Adonis of bar-rooms and back- 
parlors. But the advantage now was on the side of Rigg, and 
auditors of this conversation might probably have expected 
that Raffles would retire with the air of a defeated dog. ^ot 
at all. He made a grimace which was habitual with him 
whenever lie was " out " in a game ; then subsided into a 
laugh, and drew a brandy-flask from liis pocket. 

" Come, Josh," he said, in a cajoling tone, " give us a 
spoonful of brandy, and a sovereign to pay the way back, 
and I '11 go. Honor bright ! I '11 go like a bullet, by 
Jove ! " 

" Mind," said Rigg, drawing out a bunch of keys, ^' if I ever 
see you again, I shan't speak to you. I don't own you any 
more than if I saw a crow ; and if you want to own me you '11 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 433 

get nothing by it but a character for being what you are — a 
spiteful, brassy, bullying rogue." 

" That 's a pity, now, Josh," said Raffles, affecting to scratch 
his head and wrinkle his brows upward as if he were non- 
plussed. " I 'ni very fond of you ; bij Jove, I am ! There 's 
nothing I like better than plaguing you — you 're so like your 
mother, and I must do without it. But the brandy and the 
sovereign 's a bargain." 

He jerked forward the flask and Rigg went to a fine old 
oaken bureau with his keys. But Raffles had reminded him- 
self by his movement with the flask that it had become dan- 
gerously loose from its leather covering, and catching sight 
of a folded paper which had fallen within the fender, he took 
it up and shoved it under the leather so as to make the glass 
firm. 

By that time Rigg came forward with a brandy-bottle, filled 
the flask, and handed Raffles a sovereign, neither looking at 
him nor speaking to him. After locking up the bureau again, 
he walked to the window and gazed out as impassibly as he 
had done at the beginning of the interview, while Raffles took 
a small allowance from the flask, screwed it up, and deposited 
it in his side-pocket, with provoking slowness, making a gri- 
mace at his stepson's back. 

" Farewell, Josh — and if forever ! " said Raffles, turning 
back his head as he opened the door. 

Rigg saw him leave the grounds and enter the lane. The 
gray day had turned to a light drizzling rain, which freshened 
the hedgerows and the grassy borders of the by-roads, and 
hastened the laborers who were loading the last shocks of 
corn. Raffles, walking with the uneasy gait of a town loiterer 
obliged to do a bit of country journeying on foot, looked as 
incongruous amid this moist rural quiet and industry as if he 
had been a baboon escaped from a menagerie. But there were 
none to stare at him except the long-weaned calves, and none 
to show dislike of his appearance except the little water-rats 
which rustled away at his approach. 

He was fortunate enough when he got on to the highroad to be 
overtaken by the stage-coach, which carried him to Brassing ; 
VOL. VII, 28 



434 MIDDLEMARCH. 

and there lie took the new-made railway, observing to his 
fellow-passengers that he considered it pretty well seasoned 
now it had done for Huskisson. Mr. Raffles on most occa- 
sions kept up the sense of having been educated at an acad- 
emy, and being able, if he chose, to pass well everywhere ; 
indeed, there was not one of his fellow-men whom he did not 
feel himself in a position to ridicule and torment, confident of 
the entertainment which he thus gave to all the rest of the 
company. 

He played this part now with as much spirit as if his 
journey had been entirely successful, resorting at frequent 
intervals to his flask. The paper with which he had wedged 
it was a letter signed Nicholas Bidstrode, but Raffles w^as not 
likely to disturb it from its present useful position. 



CHAPTER XLIL 

How much, methinks, I could despise this man, 
Were I not bound in charity against it ! 

Shakespeare : Henry VIII. 

One of the professional calls made by Lydgate soon after 
his return from his wedding-journey was to Lowick Manor, in 
consequence of a letter which had requested him to fix a time 
for his visit. 

Mr. Casaubon had never put any question concerning the 
nature of his illness to Lydgate, nor had he even to Dorothea 
betrayed any anxiety as to how far it might be likely to cut 
short his labors or his life. On this point, as on all others, he 
shrank from pity ; and if the suspicion of being pitied for 
anything in his lot surmised or known in spite of himself was 
embittering, the idea of calling forth a show of compassion 
by frankly admitting an alarm or a sorrow was necessarily 
intolerable to him. Every proud mind knows something of 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 435 

this experience, and perhaps it is onl}^ to be overcome by a 
sense of fellowship deep enough to make all efforts at isolation 
seem mean and petty instead of exalting. 

But Mr. Casaubon was now brooding over something through 
which the question of his health and life haunted his silence 
with a more harassing importunity even than through the 
autumnal unripeness of his authorship. It is true that this 
last might be called his central ambition ; but there are some 
kinds of authorship in which by far the largest result is the 
uneasy susceptibility accumulated in the consciousness of the 
author — one knows of the river by a few streaks amid a 
long-gathered deposit of uncomfortable mud. That was the 
way with Mr. Casaubon's hard intellectual labors. Their most 
characteristic result was not the " Key to all Mythologies," 
but a morbid consciousness that others did not give him the 
place which he had not demonstrably merited — a perpetual 
suspicious conjecture that the views entertained of him were 
not to his advantage — a melancholy absence of passion in his 
efforts at achievement, and a passionate resistance to the con- 
fession that he had achieved nothing. 

Thus his intellectual ambition which seemed to others to 
have absorbed and dried him, was really no security against 
wounds, least of all against those which came from Dorothea. 
And he had begun now to frame possibilities for the future 
which were somehow more embittering to him than anything 
his mind had dwelt on before. 

Against certain facts he was helpless : against Will Ladis- 
law's existence, his defiant stay in the neighborhood of Lowick, 
and his flippant state of mind with regard to the possessors 
of authentic, well-stamped erudition : against Dorothea's 
nature, always taking on some new shape of ardent activity, 
and even in submission and silence covering fervid reasons 
which it was an irritation to think of : against certain notions 
and likings which had taken possession of her mind in rela- 
tion to subjects that he could not possibly discuss with her. 
There was no denying that Dorothea was as virtuous and 
lovely a young lady as he could have obtained for a wife ; but 
a young lady turned out to be something more troublesome 



436 MIDDLEMARCH. 

than he had conceived. She nursed him, she read to him. she 
anticipated his wants, and was solicitous about his feelings ; 
but there had entered into the husband's mind the certainty 
that she judged him, and that her wifely devotedness was 
like a penitential expiation of unbelieving thoughts — was 
accompanied with a power of comparison by which himself 
and his doings were seen too luminously as a part of things 
in general. His discontent passed vapor-like through all her 
gentle loving manifestations, and clung to that inappreciative 
world which she had only brought nearer to him. 

Poor Mr. Casaubon ! This suffering was the harder to bear 
because it seemed like a betrayal : the young creature who 
had worshipped him with perfect trust had quickly turned 
into the critical wife ; and early instances of criticism and 
resentment had made an impression which no tenderness 
and submission afterwards could remove. To his suspicious 
interpretation Dorothea's silence now was a suppressed rebel- 
lion ; a remark from her which he had not in any way antici- 
pated was an assertion of conscious superiority ; her gentle 
answers had an irritating cautiousness in them ; and when she 
acquiesced it was a self-approved effort of forbearance. The 
tenacity with which he strove to hide this inward drama made 
it the more vivid for him ; as we hear with the more keenness 
what we wish others not to hear. 

Instead of wondering at this result of misery in Mr. Casau- 
bon, I think it quite ordinary. Will not a tiny speck very 
close to our vision blot out the glor}^ of the world, and leave 
only a margin by which we see the blot ? I know no speck 
so troublesome as self. And who, if Mr. Casaubon had chosen 
to expound his discontents — his suspicions that he was not 
any longer adored without criticism — could have denied that 
they were founded on good reasons? On the contrary, there 
was a strong reason to be added, which he had not himself 
taken explicitly into account — namely, that he was not un- 
mixedly adorable. He suspected this, however, as he sus- 
pected other things, without confessing it, and like the rest 
of us, felt how soothing it would have been to have a compan- 
ion who would never find it out. 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 437 

This sore susceptibility in relation to Dorothea was thor- 
oughly prepared belore Will Ladislaw had returned to Lowick, 
and what had occurred since then had brought ]\Ir. Casaubon's 
power of suspicious construction into exasperated activity. To 
all the facts which he knew, he added imaginary facts both 
present and future which became more real to him than those, 
because they called up a stronger dislike, a more predomi- 
nating bitterness. Suspicion and jealousy of Will Ladislaw's 
intentions, suspicion and jealousy of Dorothea's impressions, 
were constantly at their weaving work. It would be quite vm- 
just to him to suppose that he could have entered into any 
coarse misinterpretation of Dorothea : his own habits of mind 
and conduct, quite as much as the open elevation of her nature, 
saved him from any such mistake. What he was jealous of 
was her opinion, the sway that might be given to her ardent 
mind in its judgments, and the future possibilities to which 
these might lead her. As to Will, though until his last defiant 
letter he had nothing definite which he would choose formally 
to allege against him, he felt himself warranted in believing 
that he was capable of any design which could fascinate a re- 
bellious temper and an undisciplined impulsiveness. He was 
quite sure that Dorothea was the cause of Will's return from 
Rome, and his determination to settle in the neighborhood; 
and he was penetrating enough to imagine that Dorothea had 
innocently encouraged this course. It was as clear as possible 
that she was ready to be attached to Will and to be pliant to 
his suggestions : they had never had a tete-a-tete without her 
bringing away from it some new troublesome impression, and 
the last interview that Mr. Casaubon was aware of (Dorothea, 
on returning from Freshitt Hall, had for the first time been 
silent about having seen Will) had led to a scene which roused 
an angrier feeling against them both than he had ever known 
before. Dorothea's outpouring of her notions about money, in 
the darkness of the night, had done nothing but bring a mix- 
ture of more odious foreboding into her husband's mind. 

And there was the shock lately given to his health nlways 
sadly present with him. He was certainly much revived ; he 
had recovered all his usual power of work : the illness might 



438 MIDDLEMARCH. 

have been mere fatigue, and there miglit still be twenty years 
of achievement before him, which would justify the thirty 
years of preparation. That prospect was made the sweeter by 
a flavor of vengeance against the hasty sneers of Carp & Com- 
pany; for even when Mr. Casaubon was carrying his taper 
among the tombs of the past, those modern figures came athwart 
the dim light, and interrupted his diligent exploration. To 
convince Carp of his mistake, so that he would have to eat his 
own words with a good deal of indigestion, would be an agree- 
able accident of triumphant authorship, which the prospect of 
living to future ages on earth and to all eternity in heaven 
could not exclude from contemplation. Since, thus, the pre- 
vision of his own unending bliss could not nullify the bitter 
savors of irritated jealousy and vindictiveness, it is the less 
surprising that the probability of a transient earthlj^ bliss for 
other persons, when he himself should have entered into glory, 
had not a potently sweetening effect. If the truth should be 
that some undermining disease was at work within him, there 
might be large opportunity for some people to be the happier 
when he was gone ; and if one of those people should be Will 
Ladislaw, Mr. Casaubon objected so strongly that it seemed 
as if the annoyance would make part of his disembodied 
existence. 

This is a very bare and therefore a very incomplete way of 
putting the case. The human soul moves in many channels, 
and Mr. Casaubon, we know, had a sense of rectitude and an 
honorable pride in satisfying the requirements of honor, which 
compelled him to find other reasons for his conduct than those 
of jealousy and vindictiveness. The way in which Mr. Casau- 
bon put the case was this : — 

" In marrying Dorothea Brooke I had to care for her well- 
being in case of my death. But well-being is not to be secured 
by ample, independent possession of property ; on the con- 
trary, occasions might arise in which such possession might 
expose her to the more danger. She is ready prey to any man 
who knows how to play adroitly either on her affectionate 
ardor or her Quixotic enthusiasm ; and a man stands by 
with that very intention in his mind — a man with no other 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 439 

principle than transient caprice, and wlio has a personal ani- 
mosity towards me — I am sure of it — an animosity which is 
fed by the consciousness of his ingratitude, and which he has 
constantly vented in ridicule of which I am as well assured as 
if I had heard it. Even if I live I shall not be without uneas- 
iness as to what he may attempt through indirect influence. 
This man h?s gained Dorothea's ear : he has fascinated her 
attention; he has evidently tried to impress her mind with the 
notion that he has claims beyond any tiling I have done for him. 
If I die — and he is waiting here on the watch for that — he 
will persuade her to marry him. That would be calamity for 
her and success for him. She would not think it calamity : he 
would make her believe anything ; she has a tendency to im- 
moderate attachment which she inwardly reproaches me for 
not responding to, and already her mind is occupied with his 
fortunes. He thinks of an easy conquest and of entering into 
my nest. That I will hinder ! Such a marriage would be fatal 
to Dorothea. Has he ever persisted in anything except from 
contradiction ? In knowledge he has always tried to be showy 
at small cost. In religion he could be, as long as it suited 
him, the facile echo of Dorothea's vagaries. When was scio- 
lism ever dissociated from laxity ? I utterly distrust his mor- 
als, and it is my duty to hinder to the utmost the fulfilment of 
his designs." 

The arrangements made by Mr. Casaubon on his marriage 
left strong measures open to him, but in ruminating on them 
his mind inevitabl}^ dwelt so much on the probabilities of his 
own life that the longing to get the nearest possible calcu- 
lation had at last overcome his proud reticence, and had 
determined him to ask Lydgate's opinion as to the nature of 
his illness. 

He had mentioned to Dorothea that Lydgate was coming by 
appointment at half-past three, and in answer to her anxious 
question, whether he had felt ill, replied, — " No, I merely 
wish to have his opinion concerning some habitual symptoms. 
You need not see him, my dear. I shall give orders that he 
may be sent to me in the Yew-tree Walk, where I shall be tak- 
ing my usual exercise." 



440 MIDDLEMARCH. 

When Lydgate entered the Yew-tree Walk he saw Mr. Casau- 
bon slowly receding with his hands behind him according to 
his habit, and his head bent forward. It was a lovely after- 
noon ; the leaves from the lofty limes were falling silently 
across the sombre evergreens, while the lights and shadows 
slept side by side : there was no sound but the cawing of the 
rooks, which to the accustomed ear is a lullaby, or that last 
solemn lullaby, a dirge. Lydgate, conscious of an energetic 
frame in its prime, felt some compassion when the figure which 
he was likely soon to overtake turned round, and in advancing 
towards him showed more markedly than ever the signs of 
premature age — the student's bent shoulders, the emaciated 
limbs, and the melancholy lines of the mouth. "Poor fellow," 
he thought, " some men with his years are like lions ; one can 
tell nothing of their age except that they are full grown." 

" Mr. Lydgate," said Mr. Casaubon, with his invariably po- 
lite air, "I am exceedingly obliged to you for your punctuality. 
We will, if you please, carry on our conversation in walking to 
and fro." 

" I hope your wish to see me is not due to the return of un- 
pleasant symptoms," said Lydgate, filling up a pause. 

"Not immediately — no. In order to account for that wish 
I must mention — what it were otherwise needless to refer to 
— that my life, on all collateral accounts insignificant, derives 
a possible importance from the incompleteness of labors which 
have extended through all its best years. In short, I have 
long had on hand a work which I would fain leave behind me 
in such a state, at least, that it might be committed to the 
press by — others. Were I assured that this is the utmost I 
can reasonably expect, that assurance would be a useful cir- 
cumscription of my attempts, and a guide in both the positive 
and negative determination of my course." 

Here Mr. Casaubon paused, removed one hand from his 
back and thrust it between the buttons of his single-breasted 
coat. To a mind largely instructed in the human destiny 
hardly anything could be more interesting than the inward 
conflict implied in his formal measured address, delivered with 
the usual sing-song and motion of the head. Nay, are there 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 441 

many situations more sublimely tragic than the struggle of 
the soui with the demand to renounce a work which nas been 
all the signilicance of its life — a significance which is to van- 
ish as the waters which come and go where no man has need 
of them ? But there was nothing to strike others as sublime 
about Mr. Casaubon, and Lydgate, who had some contempt at 
hand for futile scholarship, felt a little amusement mingling 
with his pity. He was at present too ill acquainted with dis- 
aster to enter into the pathos of a lot where everything is be- 
low the level of tragedy except the passionate egoism of the 
sufferer. 

"You refer to the possible hindrances from want of health?" 
he said, wishing to help forward ]Mr. Casaubon's purpose, 
which seemed to be clogged by some hesitation. 

"I do. You have not implied to me that the symptoms 
which — I am bound to testify — you watched with scrupu- 
lous care, were those of a fatal disease. But were it so, 
Mr. Lydgate, I should desire to know the truth without res- 
ervation, and I appeal to you for an exact statement of your 
conclusions : I request it as a friendly service. If you can 
tell me that my life is not threatened by anything else than 
ordinary casualties, I shall rejoice, on grounds which I have 
already indicated. If not, knowledge of the truth is even 
•more important to me." 

" Then I can no longer hesitate as to my course," said Lyd- 
gate ; " but the first thing I must impress on you is that my 
conclusions are doubly uncertain — uncertain not only because 
of my fallibility, but because diseases of the heart are emi- 
nently difficult to found predictions on. In any case, one can 
hardly increase appreciably the tremendous uncertainty of 
life." 

Mr. Casaubon winced perceptibly, but bowed. 

" I believe that you are suffering from what is called fatty 
degeneration of the heart, a disease which was first divined 
and explored by Laennec, the man who gave us the stetho- 
scope, not so very many years ago. A good deal of experience 
— a more lengthened observation — is wanting on the subject. 
But after what you have said, it is my duty to tell you that 



442 MIDDLEMARCH. 

death from this disease is often sudden. At the same time, 
no such result can be predicted. Your condition iriay be con- 
sistent with a tolerably comfortable life for another fifteen 
years, or even more. I could add no information to this be- 
yond anatomical or medical details, which would leave expec- 
tation at precisely the same point." Lydgate's instinct was 
line enough to tell him that plain speech, quite free from 
ostentatious caution, would be felt by Mr. Casaubon as a 
tribute of respect. 

"I thank you, Mr. Lydgate," said Mr. Casaubon, after a mo- 
ment's pause. " One thing more I have still to ask : did you 
communicate what you have now told me to Mrs. Casaubon ? " 

"Partly — I mean, as to the possible issues." Lydgate was 
going to explain why he had told Dorothea, but Mr. Casaubon, 
with an unmistakable desire to end the conversation, waved 
his hand slightly, and said again, " I thank you," proceeding 
to remark on the rare beauty of the day. 

Lydgate, certain that his patient wished to be alone, soon 
left him ; and the black figure with hands behind and head 
bent forward continued to pace the walk where the dark j^ew- 
trees gave him a mute companionship in melancholy, and the 
little shadows of bird or leaf that fleeted across the isles of 
sunlight, stole along in silence as in the presence of a sorrow. 
Here was a man who now for the first time found himself 
looking into the eyes of death — who was passing through one 
of those rare moments of experience when we feel the truth 
of a commonplace, which is as different from what we call 
knowing it, as the vision of waters upon the earth is different 
from the delirious vision of the water which cannot be had to 
cool the burning tongue. When the commonplace "We must 
all die " transforms itself suddenly into the acute conscious- 
ness "I must die — and soon," then death grapples us, and his 
fingers are cruel ; afterwards, he may come to fold us in his 
arms as our mother did, and our last moment of dim earthly 
discerning may be like the first. To Mr. Casaubon now, it 
was as if he suddenly found himself on the dark river-brink 
and heard the plash of the oncoming oar, not discerning the 
forms, but expecting the summons. In such an hour the mind 



THREE LOVE PKOBLEMS. 443 

does not change its lifelong bias, but carries it onward in im- 
agination to the other side of death, gazing backward — per- 
haps with the divine calm of beneficence, perhaps with the 
petty anxieties of self-assertion. What was Mr. Casaubon's 
bias his acts will give us a clew to. He held himself to be, 
with some private scholarly reservations, a believing Christian, 
as to estimates of the present and hopes of the future. But 
Avhat we strive to gratify, thougvli we may call it a distant 
hope, is an immediate desire : the future estate for which men 
drudge up city alleys exists already in their imagination and 
love. And Mr. Casaubon's immediate desire was not for divine 
communion and light divested of earthly conditions ; his pas- 
sionate longings, poor man, clung low and mist-like in very 
shady places. 

Dorothea had been aware when Lydgate had ridden away, 
and she had stepped into the garden, with the impulse to go 
at once to her husband. lUit she hesitated, fearing to offend 
him by obtruding herself; for her ardor, continually repulsed, 
served, with her intense memory, to heighten her dread, as 
thwarted energy subsides into a shudder ; and she wandered 
slowly round the nearer clumps of trees until she saw him ad- 
vancing. Then slie went towards him, and might have repre- 
sented a heaven-sent angel coming with a promise that the 
short hours remaining should yet be filled with that faithful 
love which clings the closer to a comprehended grief. His 
glance in reply to hers was so chill that she felt her timidity 
increased; yet she turned and passed her hand through his 
arm. 

Mr. Casaubon kept his hands behind him and allowed her 
pliant arm to cling with difficulty against his rigid arm. 

There was something horrible to Dorothea in the sensation 
which this unresponsive hardness inflicted on her. That is a 
strong word, but not too strong : it is in these acts called 
trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted, until men 
and women look round with haggard faces at the devastation 
their own waste has made, and say, the earth bears no harvest 
of sweetness — calling their denial knowledge. You may ask 
why, in the name of manliness, Mr. Casaubon should have 



444 MIDDLEMARCH. 

behaved in that way. Consider that his was a mind which 
shrank from pity : have you ever watched in such a mind the 
effect of a suspicion that wliat is pressing it as a grief may be 
really a source of contentment, either actual or future, to the 
being who already offends by pitying ? Besides, he knew 
little of Dorothea's sensations, and had not reflected that on 
such an occasion as the present they were comparable in 
strength to his own sensibilities about Carp's criticisms. 

Dorothea did not withdraw her arm, but she could not ven- 
ture to speak. Mr. Casaubon did not say, ''I wish to be 
alone," but he directed his steps in silence towards the house, 
and as they entered by the glass door on this eastern side, 
Dorothea withdrew her arm and lingered on the matting, that 
she might leave her husband quite free. He entered the 
library and shut himself in, alone with his sorrow. 

She went up to her boudoir. The open bow-window let in 
the serene glory of the afternoon lying in the avenue, where 
the lime-trees cast long shadows. But Dorothea knew nothing 
of the scene. She threw herself on a chair, not heeding that 
she was in the dazzling sun-rays : if there were discomfort in 
that, how could she tell that it was not part of her inward 
misery ? 

She was in the reaction of a rebellious anger stronger than 
any she had felt since her marriage. Instead of tears there 
came words : — 

"What have I done — what ami — that he should treat 
mo so? He never knows what is in ray mind — he never 
cares. What is the use of anything I do ? He wishes he had 
never married me." 

She began to hear herself, and was checked into stillness. 
Like one who has lost his way and is weary, she sat and saw 
as in one glance all the paths of her young hope which she 
should never find again. And just as clearly in the miserable 
light she saw her own and her husband's solitude — how they 
walked apart so that she was obliged to survey him. If he 
had drawn her towards him, she would never have surveyed 
him — never have said, " Is he worth living for ? " but would 
have felt him simply a part of her own life. N"ow she said 



THREE LOVE PROBLEMS. 445 

bitterly, '' It is his fault, not mine." In the jar of her whole 
being. Pity was overthrown. Was it lier fault that she had 
believed in him — had believed in his worthiness? — And 
what, exactly, was he? — She was able enough to estimate 
him — she . who waited on his glances with trembling, and 
shut her best soul in prison, paying it only hidden visits, that 
she might be petty enough to please him. In such a crisis as 
this, some women begin to hate. 

The sun was low when Dorothea was thinking that she 
would not go down again, but would send a message to her 
husband saying that she was not well and preferred remaining 
up-stairs. She had never deliberately allowed her resentment 
to govern her in this way before, but she believed now that she 
could not see him again without telling him the truth about 
her feeling, and she must wait till she could do it without 
interruption. He might wonder and be hurt at her message. 
It was good that he should wonder and be hurt. Her anger 
said, as anger is apt to say, that God was with her — that all 
heaven, though it were crowded with spirits watching them, 
must be on her side. She had determined to ring her bell, 
when there came a rap at the door. 

Mr. Casaubon had sent to say that he would have his dinner 
in the library. He wished to be quite alone this evening, 
being much occupied. 

" I shall not dine, tlien, Tantripp." 

" Oh, madam, let me bring you a little something ? '• 

"No; I am not well. Get everything ready in my dressing- 
room, but pra}^ do not disturb me again." 

Dorothea sat almost motionless in her meditative struggle, 
while the evening slowly deepened into night. But the strug- 
gle changed continually, as that of a man who begins with a 
movement towards striking and ends with conquering his 
desire to strike. The energy that would animate a crime is 
not more than is wanted to inspire a resolved submission, 
when the noble habit of the soul reasserts itself. That 
thought with which Dorothea had gone out to meet her hus- 
band — her conviction that he had been asking about the 
possible arrest of all his work, and that the answer must have 



446 MIDDLEMAltCH. 

wrung his heart, could not be long without rising beside the 
image of him, like a shadowy monitor looking at her anger 
with sad remonstrance. It cost her a litany of pictured sor- 
rows and of silent cries that she might be the mercy for those 
sorrows — but the resolved submission did come; and when 
the house was still, and she knew that it was near the time 
when Mr. Casaubon habitually went to rest, she opened her 
door gently and stood outside in the darkness waiting for his 
coming up-stairs with a light in his hand. If he did not come 
soon she thought that she would go down and even risk incur- 
ring another pang. She would never again expect anything 
else. But she did hear the library door open, and slowly the 
light advanced up the staircase without noise from the foot- 
steps on the carpet. When her husband stood opposite to 
her, she saw that his face was more haggard. He started 
slightly on seeing her, and she looked up at him beseechingly, 
without speaking. • 

" Dorothea ! " he said, with a gentle surprise in his tone. 
" Were you waiting for me ?" 

" Yes, I did not like to disturb you." 

" Come, my dear, come. You are young, and need not to 
extend your life by watching." 

When the kind quiet melancholy of that speech fell on 
Dorothea's ears, she felt something like the thankfulness that 
might well up in us if we had narrowly escaped hurting a 
lamed creature. She put her hand into her husband's, and 
they went along the broad corridor together. 



University Press : John Wilson & Son, Cambridge. 



*■; 



m 



»» 






mm 

mmm 



wmm 



m 









^,^$^ 
^:^;^i^^^ 









0^^ 



.>,^