STUDY OF PROVINCIAL LIFE
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
The. TJinJit nf Trn.n aJ.ri t.i.nn. is
CONTENTS OF THE THIED VOLUME.
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND, . 1
11 VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE, 193
THE DEAD HAND
THE DEAD HAND.
This figure hath high price : 'twas wrought with love
Ages ago in finest ivory ;
Nought modish in it, pure and noble lines
Of generous womanhood that fits all time.
That too is costly ware ; majolica
Of deft design, to please a lordly eye :
The smile, you see, is perfect wonderful
As mere Faience ! a table ornament
To suit the richest mounting.
DOROTHEA seldom left home without her husband,
but she did occasionally drive into Middlemarch
alone, on little errands of shopping or charity such
as occur to every lady of any wealth when she
lives within three miles of a town. Two days
after that scene in the Yew-Tree Walk, she deter-
mined to use such an opportunity in order if pos-
sible to see Lydgate, and learn from him whether
her husband had really felt any depressing change
of symptoms which he was concealing from her,
and whether he had insisted on knowing the ut-
most about himself. She felt almost guilty in
asking for knowledge about him from another,
but the dread of being without it the dread of
that ignorance which would make her unjust or
hard overcame every scruple. That there had
been some crisis in her husband's mind she
was certain: he had the very next day begun
a new method of arranging his notes, and had
associated her quite newly in carrying out his
plan. Poor Dorothea needed to lay up stores of
It was about four o'clock when she drove to
Lydgate's house in Lowick Gate, wishing, in her
immediate doubt of finding him at home, that
she had written beforehand. And he was not
" Is Mrs Lydgate at home ?" said Dorothea, who
had never, that she knew of, seen Rosamond, but
now remembered the fact of the marriage. Yes,
Mrs Lydgate was at home.
" I will go in and speak to her, if she will allow
me. Will you ask her if she can see me see Mrs
Casaubon, for a few minutes ? "
When the servant had gone to deliver that mes-
sage, Dorothea could hear sounds of music through
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 5
an open window a few notes from a man's voice
and then a piano bursting into roulades. But the
roulades broke off suddenly, and then the servant
came back saying that Mrs Lydgate would be
happy to see Mrs Casaubon.
When the drawing-room door opened and Doro-
thea entered, there was a sort of contrast not
infrequent in country life when the habits of the
different ranks were less blent than now. Let
those who know, tell us exactly what stuff it was
that Dorothea wore in those days of mild autumn
that thin white woollen stuff soft to the touch
and soft to the eye. It always seemed to have
been lately washed, and to smell of the sweet
hedges was always in the shape of a pelisse with
sleeves hanging all out of the fashion. Yet if she
had entered before a still audience as Imogen or
Cato's daughter, the dress might have seemed
right enough : the grace and dignity were in her
limbs and neck; and about her simply parted
hair and candid eyes the large round poke
which was then in the fate of women, seemed
no more odd as a head-dress than the gold
trencher we call a halo. By the present audience
of two persons, no dramatic heroine could have
been expected with more interest than Mrs Casau-
bon. To Eosamond she was one of those county
divinities not mixing with Middlemarch mortality,
whose slightest marks of manner or appearance
were worthy of her study ; moreover, Eosamond
was not without satisfaction that Mrs Casaubon
should have an opportunity of studying Tier.
What is the use of being exquisite if you are not
seen -by the best judges? and since Eosamond
had received the highest compliments at Sir God-
win Lydgate's, she felt quite confident of the
impression she must make on people of good
birth. Dorothea put out her hand with her
usual simple kindness, and looked admiringly
at Lydgate's lovely bride aware that there was
a gentleman standing at a distance, but seeing
him merely as a coated figure at a wide angle.
The gentleman was too much occupied with the
presence of the one woman to reflect on the con-
trast between the two a contrast that would
certainly have been striking to a calm observer.
They were both tall, and their eyes were on a level ;
but imagine Eosamond's infantine blondness and
wondrous crown of hair -plaits, with her pale-
blue dress of a fit and fashion so perfect that no >
dressmaker could look at it without emotion, a
large embroidered collar which it was to be hoped
all beholders would know the price of, her small
hands duly set off with rings, and that controlled
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 7
self-consciousness of manner which is the expen-
sive substitute for simplicity.
" Thank you very much for allowing me to in-
terrupt you/' said Dorothea, immediately. " I am
anxious to see Mr Lydgate, if possible, before I go
home, and I hoped that you might possibly tell
me where I could find him, or even allow me to
wait for him, if you expect him soon."
" He is at the New Hospital," said Eosamond ;
"I am not sure how soon he will come home. But
I can send for him."
"Will you let me go and fetch him?" said Will
Ladislaw, coming forward. He had already taken
up his hat before Dorothea entered. She coloured
with surprise, but put out her hand with a smile
of unmistakable pleasure, saying
. " I did not know it was you : I had no thought
of seeing you here."
" May I go to the Hospital and tell Mr Lyd-
gate that you wish to see him ? " said Will.
" It would be quicker to send the carriage for
him," said Dorothea, "if you will be kind enough
to give the message to the coachman."
Will was moving to the door when Dorothea,
whose mind had flashed in an instant over many
connected memories, turned quickly and said, " I
will go myself, thank you. I wish to lose no time
before getting home again. I will drive to the
Hospital and see Mr Lydgate there. Pray excuse
me, Mrs Lydgate. I am very much obliged to
Her mind was evidently arrested by some sud-
den thought, and she left the room hardly con-
scious of what was immediately around her
hardly conscious that Will opened the door for
her and offered her his arm to lead her to the
carriage. She took the arm but said nothing.
Will was feeling rather vexed and miserable, and
found nothing to say on his side. He handed her
into the carriage in silence, they said good-bye,
and Dorothea drove away.
In the five minutes' drive to the Hospital she
had time for some reflections that were quite new
to her. Her decision to go, and her preoccupa-
tion in leaving the room, had come from the
sudden sense that there would be a sort of decep-
tion in her voluntarily allowing any further inter-
course between herself and Will which she was
unable to mention to her husband, and already
her errand in seeking Lydgate was a matter of
concealment. That was all that had been ex-
plicitly in her mind ; but she had been urged also
by a vague discomfort. Now that she was alone
in her drive, she heard the notes of the man's
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 9
voice and the accompanying piano, which she had
not noted much at the time, returning on her in-
ward sense ; and she found herself thinking with
some wonder that Will Ladislaw was passing his
time with Mrs Lydgate in her husband's absence.
And then she could not help remembering that he
had passed some time with her under like circum-
stances, so why should there be any unfitness in
the fact ? But Will was Mr Casaubon's relative,
and one towards whom she was bound to show
kindness. Still there had been signs which per-
haps she ought to have understood as implying
that Mr Casaubon did not like his cousin's visits
during his own absence. " Perhaps I have been
mistaken in many things," said poor Dorothea to
herself, while the tears came rolling and she had
to dry them quickly. She felt confusedly un-
happy, and the image of Will which had been so
clear to her before was mysteriously spoiled. But
the carriage stopped at the gate of the Hospital.
She was soon walking round the grass plots with
Lydgate, and her feelings recovered the strong
bent which had made her seek for this interview.
Will Ladislaw, meanwhile, was mortified, and
knew the reason of it clearly enough. His chances
of meeting Dorothea were rare ; and here for the
first time there had come a chance which had set
him at a disadvantage. It was not only, as it had
been hitherto, that she was not supremely occu-
pied with him, but that she had seen him under
circumstances in which he might appear not to be
supremely occupied with her. He felt thrust to
a new distance from her, amongst the circles of
Middlemarchers who made no part of her life.
But that was not his fault : of course, since he had
taken his lodgings in the town, he had been mak-
ing as many acquaintances as he could, his posi-
tion requiring that he should know everybody
and everything. Lydgate was really better worth
knowing than any one else in the neighbourhood,
and he happened to have a wife who was musical
and altogether worth calling upon. Here was the
whole history of the situation in which Diana had
descended too unexpectedly on her worshipper.
It was mortifying. Will was conscious that he
should not have been at Middlemarch but for
Dorothea ; and yet his position there was threat-
ening to divide him from her with those barriers
of habitual sentiment which are more fatal to the
persistence of mutual interest than all the distance
between Eome and Britain. Prejudices about rank
and status were easy enough to defy in the form
of a tyrannical letter from Mr Casaubon ; but
prejudices, like odorous bodies, have a double
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 11
existence both solid and subtle solid as the
pyramids, subtle as the twentieth echo of an echo,
or as the memory of hyacinths which once
scented the darkness. And Will was of a temper-
ament to feel keenly the presence of subtleties : a
man of clumsier perceptions would not have felt,
as he did, that for the first time some sense of
unfitness in perfect freedom with him had sprung
up in Dorothea's mind, and that their silence,
as he conducted her to the carriage, had had a
chill in it. Perhaps Casaubon, in his hatred
and jealousy, had been insisting to Dorothea
that Will had slid below her socially. Confound
Will re-entered the drawing-room, took up his
hat, and looking irritated as he advanced towards
Mrs Lydgate, who had seated herself at her work-
"It is always fatal to have music or poetry
interrupted. May I come another day and just
finish about the rendering of 'Lungi dal caro
" I shall be happy to be taught," said Eosamond.
" But I am sure you admit that the interruption
was a very beautiful one. I quite envy your
acquaintance with Mrs Casaubon. Is she very
clever? She looks as if she were/'
" Really, I never thought about it," said Will,
" That is just the answer Tertius gave me, when
I first asked him if she were handsome. What is
it that you gentlemen are thinking of when you
are with Mrs Casaubon ? "
" Herself," said Will, not indisposed to provoke
the charming Mrs Lydgate. " When one sees a
perfect woman, one never thinks of her attributes
one is conscious of her presence."
" I shall be jealous when Tertius goes to
Lowick," said Eosamond, dimpling, and speaking
with aery lightness. " He will come back and
think nothing of me."
" That does not seem to have been the effect on
Lydgate hitherto. Mrs Casaubon is too unlike
other women for them to be compared with her."
" You are a devout worshipper, I perceive. You
often see her, I suppose."
"No," said Will, almost pettishly. "Worship
is usually a matter of theory rather than of prac-
tice. But I am practising it to excess just at this
moment I must really tear myself away."
" Pray come again some evening : Mr Lydgate
will like to hear the music, and I cannot enjoy it
so well without him."
When her husband was at home again, Rosa-
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 13
mond said, standing in front of him and holding,
his coat-collar with both her hands, " Mr Ladislaw
was here singing with me when Mrs Casaubon
came in. He seemed vexed. Do you think he
disliked her seeing him at our house ? Surely
your position is more than equal to his whatever
may be his relation to the Casaubons."
" No, no ; it must be something else if he were
really vexed. Ladislaw is a sort of gypsy; lie
thinks nothing of leather and prunella."
" Music apart, he is not always very agreeable.
Do you like him ? "
" Yes : I think he is a good fellow : rather mis-
cellaneous and Iric-u-lrac, but likable."
" Do you know, I think he adores Mrs Casau-
"Poor devil !" said Lydgate, smiling and pinch-
ing his wife's ears.
Kosamond felt herself beginning to know a great
deal of the world, especially in discovering what
when she was in her unmarried girlhood had been
inconceivable to her except as a dim tragedy in
bygone costumes that women, even after mar-
riage, might make conquests and enslave men.
At that time young ladies in the country, even
when educated at Mrs Lemon's, read little Trench
literature later than Eacine, and public prints had
not cast their present magnificent illumination
over the scandals of life. Still, vanity, with a
woman's whole mind and day to work in, can con-
struct abundantly on slight hints, especially on
such a hint as the possibility of indefinite con-
quests. How delightful to make captives from
the throne of marriage with a husband as crown-
prince by your side himself in fact a subject
while the captives look up for ever hopeless,
losing their rest probably, and if their appetite
too, so much the better ! But Kosamond's romance
turned at present chiefly on her crown-prince, and
it was enough to enjoy his assured subjection.
When he said, 'Poor devil!" she asked, with
" Why, what can a man do when he takes to
adoring one of you mermaids ? He only neglects
his work and runs up bills."
"I am sure you do not neglect your work.
You are always at the Hospital, or seeing poor
patients, or thinking about some doctor's quarrel ;
and then at home you always want to pore over
your microscope and phials. Confess you like
those things better than me."
" Haven't you ambition to want your husband
to be something better than a Middlemarch doc-
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 15
tor?" said Lydgate, letting his hands fall on to
his wife's shoulders, and looking at her with affec-
tionate gravity. "I shall make you learn my
favourite bit from an old poet
* Why should our pride make such a stir to be
And be forgot ? "What good is like to this,
To do worthy the writing, and to write
Worthy the reading and the world's delight ? '
What I want, Kosy, is to do worthy the writing,
and to write out myself what I have done. A
man must work, to do that, my pet."
"Of course, I wish you to make discoveries:
no one could more wish you to attain a high posi-
tion in some better place than Middlemarch.
You cannot say that I have ever tried to hinder
you from working. But we cannot live like
hermits. You are not discontented with me,
"No, dear, no. I am too entirely contented."
" But what did Mrs Casaubon want to say to
"Merely to ask about her husband's health.
But I think she is going to be splendid to our New
Hospital : I think she will give us two hundred
I would not creep along the coast, but steer
Out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars.
WHEN Dorothea, walking round the laurel-planted
plots of the New Hospital with Lydgate, had
learned from him that there were no signs of
change in Mr Casaubon's bodily condition, be-
yond the mental sign of anxiety to know the
truth about his illness, she was silent for a few
moments, wondering whether she had said or done
anything to rouse this new anxiety. Lydgate, not
willing to let slip an opportunity of furthering a
favourite purpose, ventured to say
" I don't know whether your or Mr Casaubon's
attention has been drawn to the needs of our New
Hospital. Circumstances have made it seem
rather egotistic in me to urge the subject ; but
that is not my fault : it is because there is a fight
being made against it by the other medical men.
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 17
I think you are generally interested in such
things, for I remember that when I first had the
pleasure of seeing you at Tipton Grange before
your marriage, you were asking me some ques-
tions about the way in which the health of the
poor was affected by their miserable housing."
" Yes, indeed," said Dorothea, brightening. " I
shall be quite grateful to you if you will tell me
how I can help to make things a little better.
Everything of that sort has slipped away from me
since I have been married. I mean," she said,
after a moment's hesitation, " that the people in
our village are tolerably comfortable, and my mind
has been too much taken up for me to inquire
further. But here in such a place as Middle-
march there must be a great deal to be done."
" There is everything to be done," said Lydgate,
with abrupt energy. "And this Hospital is a
capital piece of work, due entirely to Mr Bul-
strode's exertions, and in a great degree to his
money. But one man can't do everything in a
scheme of this sort. Of course he looked forward
to help. And now there's a mean, petty feud set
up against the thing in the town, by certain per-
sons who want to make it a failure."
" What can be their reasons ? " said Dorothea,
with naive surprise.
VOL. III. B
" Chiefly Mr Bulstrode's unpopularity, to begin
with. Half the town would almost take trouble for
the sake of thwarting him. In this stupid world
most people never consider that a thing is good
to be done unless it is done by their own set. I
had no connection with Bulstrode before I came
here. - I look at him quite impartially, and I see
that he has some notions that he has set things
on foot which I can turn to good public pur-
pose. If a fair number of the better educated
men went to work with the belief that their
observations might contribute to the reform of
medical doctrine and practice, we should soon
see a change for the better. That's my point of
view. I hold that by refusing to work with Mr
Bulstrode I should be turning my back on an
opportunity of making my profession more gene-
"I quite agree with you," said Dorothea, at
once fascinated by the situation sketched in
Lydgate's words. " But what is there against Mr
Bulstrode? I know that my uncle is friendly
"People don't like his religious tone," said
Lydgate, breaking off there.
"That is all the stronger reason for despising
such an opposition," said Dorothea, looking at the
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 19
affairs of Middlemarch by the light of the great
"To put the matter quite fairly, they have
other objections to him : he is masterful 'and
rather unsociable, and he is concerned with trade,
which has complaints of its own that I know
nothing about. But what has that to do with the
question whether it would not be a fine thing to
establish here a more valuable hospital than any
they have in the county ? The immediate motive
to the opposition, however, is the fact that Bui-
strode has put the medical direction into my
hands. Of course I am glad of that. It gives
me an opportunity of doing some good work,
and I am aware that I have to justify his choice
of me. But the consequence is, that the whole
profession in Middlemarch have set themselves
tooth and nail against the Hospital, and not only
refuse to co-operate themselves, but try to blacken
the whole affair and hinder subscriptions."
"How very petty!" exclaimed Dorothea, in-
" I suppose one must expect to fight one's way :
there is hardly anything to be done without it.
And the ignorance of people about here is stu-
pendous. I don't lay claim to anything but hav-
ing used some opportunities which have not come
within everybody's reach ; but there is no stifling
the offence of being young, and a new-comer, and
happening to know something more than the old
inhabitants. Still, if I believe that. I can set
going a better method of treatment if I believe
that I can pursue certain observations and in-
quiries which may be a lasting benefit to medical
practice, I should be a base truckler if I allowed
any consideration of personal comfort to hinder
me. And the course is all the clearer from there
being no salary in question to put my persistence
in an equivocal light."
" I am glad you have told me this, Mr Lydgate,"
said Dorothea, cordially. " I feel sure I can help
a little. I have some money, and don't know
what to do with it that is often an uncomfort-
able thought to me. I am sure I can spare two
hundred a-year for a grand purpose like this.
How happy you must be, to know things that
you feel sure will do great good ! I wish I could
awake with that knowledge every morning.
There seems to be so much trouble taken that
one can hardly see the good of!"
There was a melancholy cadence in Dorothea's
voice as she spoke these last words. But she
presently added, more cheerfully, " Pray come to
Lowick and tell us more of this. I will mention
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 21
the subject to Mr Casaubon. I must hasten home
She did mention it that evening, and said that
she should like to subscribe two hundred a-year
she had seven hundred a-year, as the equiva-
lent of her own fortune, settled on her at her
marriage. Mr Casaubon made no objection be-
yond a passing remark that the sum might be
disproportionate in relation to other good objects,
but when Dorothea in her ignorance resisted that
suggestion, he acquiesced. He did not care him-
self about spending money, and was not reluctant
to give it. If he ever felt keenly any question
of money it was through the medium of another
passion than the love of material property.
Dorothea told him that she had seen Lydgate,
and recited the gist of her conversation with
him about the Hospital. Mr Casaubon did not
question her further, but he felt sure that she had
wished to know what had passed between Lydgate
and himself. " She knows that I know," said the
ever-restless voice within; but that increase of
tacit knowledge only thrust further off any con-
fidence between them. He distrusted her affec-
tion; and what loneliness is more lonely than
" It is the humour of many heads to extol the days of their forefathers,
and declaim against the wickedness of times present. Which notwith-
standing they cannot handsomely do, without the borrowed help and
satire of times past ; condemning the vices of their own times, by the
expressions of vices in times which they commend, which cannot but
argue the community of vice in both. Horace, therefore, Juvenal, and
Persius, were no prophets, although their lines did seem to indigitate and
point at our times." SIR THOMAS BROWNE : Pseudodoxia Epidemica.
THAT opposition to the New Fever Hospital which
Lydgate had sketched to Dorothea was, like other
oppositions, to he viewed in many different lights.
He regarded it as a mixture of jealousy and dun-
derheaded prejudice. Mr Bulstrode saw in it
not only medical jealousy hut a determination to
thwart himself, prompted mainly hy a hatred of
that vital religion of which he had striven to he
an effectual lay representative a hatred which
certainly found pretexts apart from religion such
as were only too easy to find in the entanglements
of human action. These might be called the
ministerial views. But oppositions have the il-
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 23
limitable range of objections at command, which
need never stop short at the boundary of know-
ledge, but can draw for ever on the vasts of ignor-
ance. What the opposition in Middlemarch said
about the New Hospital and its administration
had certainly a great deal of echo in it, for heaven
has taken care that everybody shall not be an
originator; but there were differences which re-
presented every social shade between the polished
moderation of Dr Minchin and the trenchant
assertion of Mrs Dollop, the landlady of the Tan-
kard in Slaughter Lane.
Mrs Dollop became more and more convinced
by her own asseveration, that Doctor Lydgate
meant to let the people die in the Hospital, if not
to poison them, for the sake of cutting them up
without saying by your leave or with your leave ;
for it was a known " fac" that he had wanted to cut
up Mrs Goby, as respectable a woman as any in
Parley Street, who had money in trust before her
marriage a poor tale for a doctor, who if he was
good for anything should know what was the matter
with you before you died, and not want to pry into
your inside after you were gone. If that was not
reason, Mrs Dollop wished to know what was ;
but there was a prevalent feeling in her audience
that her opinion was a bulwark, and that if it
were overthrown there would be no limits to the
cutting-up of bodies, as had been well seen in
Burke and Hare with their pitch-plaisters such
a hanging business as that was not wanted in
And let it not be supposed that opinion at the
Tankard in Slaughter Lane was unimportant to
the medical profession : that old authentic public-
house the original Tankard, known by the name
of Dollop's was the resort of a great Benefit
Club, which had some months before put to the
vote whether its long-standing medical man, "Doc-
tor Gambit," should not be cashiered in favour of
" this Doctor Lydgate," who was capable of per-
forming the most astonishing cures, and rescuing
people altogether given up by other practitioners.
But the balance had been turned against Lydgate
by two members, who for some private reasons
held that this power of resuscitating persons as
good as dead was an equivocal recommendation,
and might interfere with providential favours. In
the course of the year, however, there had been
a change in the public sentiment, of which the
unanimity at Dollop's was an index.
A good deal more than a year ago, before any-
thing was known of Lydgate's skill, the judgments
on it had naturally been divided, depending on a
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 25
sense of likelihood, situated perhaps in the pit of
the stomach or in the pineal gland, and differing
in its verdicts, "but not the less valuable as a guide
in the total deficit of evidence. Patients who
had chronic diseases or whose lives had long been
worn threadbare, like old Featherstone's, had been
at once inclined to try him ; also, many who did
not like paying their doctor's bills, thought agree-
ably of opening an account with a new doctor and
sending for him without stint if the children's
temper wanted a dose, occasions when the old
practitioners were often crusty ; and all persons
thus inclined to employ Lydgate held it likely
that he was clever. Some considered that he
might do more than others "where there was
liver ; " at least there would be no harm in get-
ting a few bottles of " stuff" from him, since if
these proved useless it would still be possible to
return to the Purifying Pills, which kept you
alive, if they did not remove the yellowness. But
these were people of minor importance. Good
Middlemarch families were of course not going to
change their doctor without reason shown; and
everybody who had employed Mr Peacock did
not feel obliged to accept a new man merely in
the character of his successor, objecting that he
was " not likely to be equal to Peacock."
But Lydgate had not been long in the town
before there were particulars enough reported of
him to breed much more specific expectations and
to intensify differences into partisanship; some
of the particulars being of that impressive order
of which the significance is entirely hidden, like a
statistical amount without a standard of compari-
son, but with a note of exclamation at the end.
The cubic feet of oxygen yearly swallowed by a
full-grown man what a shudder they might have
created in some Middlemarch circles ! " Oxygen !
nobody knows what that may be is it any won-
der the cholera has got to Dantzic? And yet
there are people who say quarantine is no good ! "
One of the facts quickly rumoured was that
Lydgate did not dispense drugs. This was offen-
sive both to the physicians whose exclusive dis-
tinction seemed infringed on, and to the surgeon-
apothecaries with whom he ranged himself ; and
only a little while before, they might have counted
on having the law on their side against a man
who without calling himself a London-made M.D.
dared to ask for pay except as a charge on drugs.
But Lydgate had not been experienced enough to
foresee that his new course would be even more
offensive to the laity; and to Mr Mawmsey, an
important grocer in the Top Market, who, though
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 27
not one of his patients, questioned him in an
affable manner on the subject, he was injudicious
enough to give a hasty popular explanation of his
reasons, pointing out to Mr Mawmsey that it
must lower the character of practitioners, and be a
constant injury to the public, if their only mode
of getting paid for their work was by their making
out long bills for draughts, boluses, and mixtures.
" It is in that way that hard-working medical
men may come to be almost as mischievous as
quacks," said Lydgate, rather thoughtlessly. " To
get their own bread they must overdose the king's
lieges; and that's a bad sort of treason, Mr
Mawmsey undermines the constitution in a fatal
Mr Mawmsey was not only an overseer (it was
about a question of outdoor pay that he was
having an interview with Lydgate), he was also
asthmatic and had an increasing family: thus,
from a medical point of view, as well as from his
own, he was an important man; indeed, an ex-
ceptional grocer, whose hair was arranged in a
flame -like pyramid, and whose retail deference
was of the cordial, encouraging kind jocosely
complimentary, and with a certain considerate
abstinence from letting out the full force of his
mind. It was Mr Mawmsey's friendly jocoseness
in questioning him which had set the tone of
Lydgate's reply. But let the wise be warned
against too great readiness at explanation : it
multiplies the sources of mistake, lengthening the
sum for reckoners sure to go wrong.
Lydgate smiled as he ended his speech, put-
ting his -foot into the stirrup, and Mr Mawmsey
laughed more than he would have done if he had
known who the king's lieges were, giving his
" Good morning, sir, good morning, sir," with the
air of one who saw everything clearly enough.
But in truth his views were perturbed. Tor
years he had been paying bills with strictly-made
items, so that for every half-crown and eighteen-
pence he was certain something measurable had
been delivered. He had done this with satis-
faction, including it among his responsibilities
as a husband and father, and regarding a longer
bill than usual as a dignity worth mentioning.
Moreover, in addition to the massive benefit of
the drugs to "self and family," he had enjoyed
the pleasure of forming an acute judgment as to
their immediate effects, so as to give an intelli-
gent statement for the guidance of Mr Gambit
a practitioner just a little lower in status than
Wrench or Toller, and especially esteemed as an
accoucheur, of whose ability Mr Mawmsey had
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 29
the poorest opinion on all other points, but in
doctoring, he was wont to say in an undertone,
he placed Gambit above any of them.
Here were deeper reasons than the superficial
talk of a new man, which appeared still flimsier
in the drawing-room over the shop, when they
were recited to Mrs Mawmsey, a woman accus-
tomed to be made much of as a fertile mother,
generally under attendance more or less frequent
from Mr Gambit, and occasionally having attacks
which required Dr Minchin.
" Does this Mr Lydgate mean to say there is no
use in taking medicine?" said Mrs Mawmsey,
who was slightly given to drawling. "I should
like hiin to tell me how I could bear up at Fair
time, if I didn't take strengthening medicine for a
month beforehand. Think of what I have to pro-
vide for calling customers, my dear ! " here Mrs
Mawmsey turned. to an intimate female friend
who sat by " a large veal pie a stuffed fillet a
round of beef ham, tongue, et cetera, et cetera !
But what keeps me up best is the pink mixture,
not the brown. I wonder, Mr Mawmsey, with
your experience, you could have patience to listen.
I should have told him at once that I knew a
little better than that."
" No, no, no," said Mr Mawmsey ; " I was not
going to tell him my opinion. Hear everything
and judge for yourself is my motto. But he didn't
know who he was talking to. I was not to be
turned on his finger. People often pretend to tell
me things, when they might as well say, ' Mawm-
sey, you're a fool/ But I smile at it : I humour
everybody's weak place. If physic had done harm
to self and family, I should have found it out by
The next day Mr Gambit was told that Lydgate
went about saying physic was of no use.
"Indeed!" said he, lifting his eyebrows with
cautious surprise. (He was a stout husky man
with a large ring on his fourth finger.) "How
will he cure his patients, then?"
" That is what / say/' returned Mrs Mawmsey,
who habitually gave weight to her speech by
loading her pronouns. "Does he suppose that
people will pay him only to come and sit with
them and go away again?"
Mrs Mawmsey had had a great deal of sitting
from Mr Gambit, including very full accounts of
his own habits of body and other affairs ; but of
course he knew there was no innuendo in her
remark, since his spare time and personal narra-
tive had never been charged for. So he replied,
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 31
" Well, Lydgate is a good-looking young fellow,
"Not one that / would employ," said Mrs
Mawmsey. "Others may do as they please."
Hence Mr Gambit could go away from the
chief grocer's without fear of rivalry, "but not
without a sense that Lydgate was one of those
hypocrites who try to discredit others by advertis-
ing their own honesty, and that it might be worth
some people's while to show him up. Mr Gam-
bit, however, had a satisfactory practice, much
pervaded by the smells of retail trading which
suggested the reduction of cash payments to a
balance. And he did not think it worth his while
to show Lydgate up until he knew how. He had
not indeed great resources of education, and had
had to work his own way against a good deal of
professional contempt ; but he made none the
worse accoucheur for calling the breathing ap-
Other medical men felt themselves more cap-
able. Mr Toller shared the highest practice in
the town and belonged to an old Middlemarch
family : there were Tollers in the law and every-
thing else above the line of retail trade. Unlike
our irascible friend Wrench, he had the easiest
way in the world of taking things which might be
supposed to annoy Mm, being a well-bred, quietly
facetious man, who kept a good house, was very
fond of a little sporting when he could get it,
very friendly with Mr Hawley, and hostile to
Mr Bulstrode. It may seem odd that with such
pleasant habits he should have been given to the
heroic treatment, bleeding and blistering and
starving his patients, with a dispassionate disre-
gard to his personal example : but the incongru-
ity favoured the opinion of his ability among his
patients, who commonly observed that Mr Toller
had lazy manners, but his treatment was as active
as you could desire : no man, said they, carried
more seriousness into his profession: he was a
little slow in coming, but when he came, he did
something. He was a great favourite in his own
circle, and whatever he implied to any one's dis-
advantage told doubly from his careless ironical
He naturally got tired of smiling and saying,
" Ah ! " when he was told that Mr Peacock's suc-
cessor did not mean to dispense medicines ; and
Mr Hackbutt one day mentioning it over the
wine at a dinner-party, Mr Toller said, laugh-
ingly, "Dibbitts will get rid of his stale drugs,
then. I'm fond of little Dibbitts I'm glad he's
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 33
" I see your meaning, Toller/' said Mr Hack-
butt, " and I am entirely of your opinion. I shall
take an opportunity of expressing myself to that
effect. A medical man should be responsible for the
quality of the drugs consumed by his patients.
That is the rationale of the system of charging
which has hitherto obtained ; and nothing is more
offensive than this ostentation of reform, where
there is no real amelioration."
" Ostentation, Hackbutt ? " said Mr Toller,
ironically. " I don't see that. A man can't very
well be ostentatious of what nobody believes in.
There's no reform in the matter : the question is,
whether the profit on the drugs is paid to the
medical man by the druggist or by the patient,
and whether there shall be extra pay under the
name of attendance."
" Ah, to be sure ; one of your damned new ver-
sions of old humbug," said Mr Hawley, passing
the decanter to Mr Wrench.
Mr Wrench, generally abstemious, often drank
wine rather freely at a party, getting the more
irritable in consequence.
" As to humbug, Hawley," he said, " that's a
word easy to fling about. But what I contend
against is the way medical men are fouling theii
own nest, and setting up a cry about the country
VOL. in. c
as if a general practitioner who dispenses drugs
couldn't be a gentleman. I throw back the im-
putation with scorn. I say, the most ungentle-
manly trick a man can be guilty of is to come
among the members of his profession with inno-
vations which are a libel on their time-honoured
procedure. That is my opinion, and I am ready
to maintain it against any one who contradicts
me." Mr Wrench's voice had become exceedingly
"I can't oblige you there, Wrench," said Mr
Hawley, thrusting his hands into his trouser-
" My dear fellow," said Mr Toller, striking in
pacifically, and looking at Mr Wrench, "the
physicians have their toes trodden on more than
we have. If you come to dignity, it is a question
for Minchin and Sprague."
" Does medical jurisprudence provide nothing
against these infringements ? " said Mr Hackbutt,
with a disinterested desire to offer his lights.
" How does the law stand, eh, Hawley ? "
" Nothing to be done there," said Mr Hawley.
" I looked into it for Sprague. You'd only break
your nose against a damned judge's decision."
" Pooh ! no need of law," said Mr Toller. " So
far as practice is concerned the attempt is an
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 35
absurdity. No patient will like it certainly not
Peacock's, who have been used to depletion. Pass
Mr Toller's prediction was partly verified. If
Mr and Mrs Mawmsey, who had no idea of em-
ploying Lydgate, were made uneasy by his sup-
posed declaration against drugs, it was inevitable
that those who called him in should watch a little
anxiously to see whether he did "use all the
means he might use " in the case. Even good Mr
Powderell, who in his constant charity of inter-
pretation was inclined to esteem Lydgate the more
for what seemed a conscientious pursuit of a better
plan, had his mind disturbed with doubts during
his wife's attack of erysipelas, and could not ab-
stain from mentioning to Lydgate that Mr Pea-
cock on a similar occasion had administered a
series of boluses which were not otherwise defin-
able than by their remarkable effect in bringing
Mrs Powderell round before Michaelmas from an
illness which had begun in a remarkably hot
August. At last, indeed, in the conflict between
his desire not to hurt Lydgate and his anxiety
that no "means" should be lacking, he induced
his wife privately to take Widgeon's Purifying
Pills, an esteemed Middlemarch medicine, which
arrested every disease at the fountain by setting
to work at once upon the blood. This co-opera-
tive measure was not to be mentioned to Lydgate,
and Mr Powderell himself had no certain reliance
on it, only hoping that it might be attended with
But in this doubtful stage of Lydgate's intro-
duction-he was helped by what we mortals rashly
call good fortune. I suppose no doctor ever came
newly to a place without making cures that sur-
prised somebody cures which may be called for-
tune's testimonials, and deserve as much credit as
the written or printed kind. Various patients
got well while Lydgate was attending them, some
even of dangerous illnesses ; and it was remarked
that the new doctor with his new ways had at
least the merit of bringing people back from the
brink of death. The trash talked on such occa-
sions was the more vexatious to Lydgate, because
it gave precisely the sort of prestige which an
incompetent and unscrupulous man would desire,
and was sure to be imputed to him by the sim-
mering dislike of the other medical men as an
encouragement on his own part of ignorant puffing.
But even his proud outspokenness was checked
by the discernment that it was as useless to fight
against the interpretations of ignorance as to whip
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 37
the fog; and "good fortune" insisted on using
Mrs Larcher having just become charitably con-
cerned about alarming symptoms in her char-
woman, when Dr Minchin called, asked him to
see her then and there, and give her a certificate
for the Infirmary; whereupon after examination
he wrote a statement of the case as one of tumour,
and recommended the bearer Nancy Nash as an
out-patient. Nancy, calling at home on her way
to the Infirmary, allowed the staymaker and his
wife, in whose attic she lodged, to read Dr Min-
chin's paper, and by this means became a subject
of compassionate conversation in the neighbour-
ing shops of Churchyard Lane as being afflicted
with a tumour at first declared to be as large and
hard as a duck's egg, but later in the day to be
about the size of " your fist." Most hearers agreed
that it would have to be cut out, but one had
known of oil and another of " squitchineal " as
adequate to soften and reduce any lump in the
body when taken enough of into the inside the
oil by gradually " soopling," the squitchineal by
Meanwhile when Nancy presented herself at
the Infirmary, it happened to be one of Lydgate's
days there. After questioning and examining
her, Lydgate said to the house-surgeon in an
undertone, " It's not tumour : it's cramp/' He
ordered her a blister and some steel mixture,
and told her to go home and rest, giving her at
the same time a note to Mrs Larcher, who, she
said, was her best employer, to testify that she
was in need of good food.
But by- and -by Nancy, in her attic, became
portentously worse, the supposed tumour having
indeed given way to the blister, but only wan-
dered to another region with angrier pain. The
staymaker's wife went to fetch Lydgate, and he
continued for a fortnight to attend Nancy in her
own home, until under his treatment she got quite
well and went to work again. But the case con-
tinued to be described as one of tumour in Church-
yard Lane and other streets nay, by Mrs Larcher
also ; for when Lydgate's remarkable cure was
mentioned to Dr Minchin, he naturally did not
like to say, "The case was not one of tumour,
and I was mistaken in describing it as such," but
answered, " Indeed ! ah ! I saw it was a surgical
case, not of a fatal kind." He had been inwardly
annoyed, however, when he had asked at the In-
firmary about the woman he had recommended
two days before, to hear from the house-surgeon,
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 39
a youngster who was not sorry to vex Minchin
with impunity, exactly what had occurred: he
privately pronounced that it was indecent in a
general practitioner to contradict a physician's
diagnosis in that open manner, and afterwards
agreed with Wrench that Lydgate was disagree-
ably inattentive to etiquette. Lydgate did not
make the affair a ground for valuing himself
or (very particularly) despising Minchin, such
rectification of misjudgments often happening
among men of equal qualifications. But report
took up this amazing case of tumour, not clearly
distinguished from cancer, and considered the
more awful for being of the wandering sort ; till
much prejudice against Lydgate's method as to
drugs was overcome by the proof of his mar-
vellous skill in the speedy restoration of Nancy
Nash after she had been rolling and rolling in
agonies from the presence of a tumour both hard
and obstinate, but nevertheless compelled to
How could Lydgate help himself ? It is offen-
sive to tell a lady when she is expressing her
amazement at your skill, that she is altogether
mistaken and rather foolish in her amazement.
And to have entered into the nature of diseases
would only have added to his breaches of medical
propriety. Thus lie had to wince under a pro-
mise of success given by that ignorant praise
which misses every valid quality.
In the case of a more conspicuous patient, Mr
Borthrop Trumbull, Lydgate was conscious of
having shown himself something better than an
everyday doctor, though here too it was an equi-
vocal advantage that he won. The eloquent
auctioneer was seized with pneumonia, and hav-
ing been a patient of Mr Peacock's, sent for Lyd-
gate, whom he had expressed his intention to
patronise. Mr Trumbull was a robust man, a
good subject for trying the expectant theory upon
watching the course of an interesting disease
when left as much as possible to itself, so that
the stages might be noted for future guidance ; and
from the air with which he described his sensa-
tions Lydgate surmised that he would like to be
taken into his medical man's confidence, and be
represented as a partner in his own cure. The
auctioneer heard, without much surprise, that his
was a constitution which (always with due watch-
ing) might be left to itself, so as to offer a beauti-
ful example of a disease with all its phases seen
in clear delineation, and that he probably had
the rare strength of mind voluntarily to become
the test of a rational procedure, and thus make
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 41
the disorder of his pulmonary functions a general
benefit to society.
Mr Trumbull acquiesced at once, and entered
strongly into the view that an illness of his was
no ordinary occasion for medical science.
" Never fear, sir ; you are not speaking to one
who is altogether ignorant of the vis medicatrix"
said he, with his usual superiority of expression,
made rather pathetic by difficulty of breathing.
And he went without shrinking through his ab-
stinence from drugs, much sustained by applica-
tion of the thermometer which implied the im-
portance of his temperature, by the sense that he
furnished objects for the microscope, and by learn-
ing many new words which seemed suited to the
dignity of his secretions. For Lydgate was acute
enough to indulge him with a little technical talk.
It may be imagined that Mr Trumbull rose
from his couch with a disposition to speak of an
illness in which he had manifested the strength
of his mind as well as constitution ; and he was
not backward in awarding credit to the medical
man who had discerned the quality of patient he
had to deal with. The auctioneer was not an
ungenerous man, and liked to give others their
due, feeling that he could afford it. He had
caught the words " expectant method," and rang
chimes on this and other learned phrases to ac-
company the assurance that Lydgate " knew a
thing or two more than the rest of the doctors
was far better versed in the secrets of his profes-
sion than the majority of his compeers."
This had happened before the affair of Fred
VincyV illness had given to Mr Wrench's en-
mity towards Lydgate more definite personal
ground. The new-comer already threatened to be a
nuisance in the shape of rivalry, and was certainly
a nuisance in the shape of practical criticism or
reflections on his hard-driven elders, who had had
something else to do than to busy themselves
with untried notions. His practice had spread in
one or two quarters, and from the first the report
of his high family had led to his being pretty
generally invited, so that the other medical men
had to meet him at dinner in the best houses ;
and having to meet a man whom you dislike is
not observed always to end in a mutual attach-
ment. There was hardly ever so much unanimity
among them as in the opinion that Lydgate was
an arrogant young fellow, and yet ready for the
sake of ultimately predominating to show a crawl-
ing subservience to Bulstrode. That Mr Fare-
brother, whose name was a chief flag of the anti-
Bulstrode party, always defended Lydgate and
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 43
made a friend of him, was referred to Fare-
brother's unaccountable way of fighting on both
Here was plenty of preparation for the out-
burst of professional disgust at the announcement
of the laws Mr Bulstrode was laying down for the
direction of the New Hospital, which were the
more exasperating because there was no present
possibility of interfering with his will and pleasure,
everybody except Lord Medlicote having refused
help towards the building, on the ground that they
preferred giving to the Old Infirmary. Mr Bui-
strode met all the expenses, and had ceased to be
sorry that he was purchasing the right to carry out
his notions of improvement without hindrance from
prejudiced coadjutors ; but he had had to spend
large sums, and the building had lingered. Caleb
Garth had undertaken it, had failed during its pro-
gress, and before the interior fittings were begun
had retired from the management of the business ;
and when referring to the Hospital he often said that
however Bulstrode might ring if you tried him, he
liked good, solid carpentry and masonry, and had a
notion both of drains and chimneys. In fact, the
Hospital had become an object of intense interest
to Bulstrode, and he would willingly have con-
tinued to spare a large yearly sum that he might
rule it dictatorially without any Board ; but he
had another favourite object which also required
some money for its accomplishment : he wished to
buy some land in the neighbourhood of Middle-
march, and therefore he wished to get some con-
siderable contributions towards maintaining the
Hospital. Meanwhile he framed his plan of
management. The Hospital was to be reserved
for fever in all its forms ; Lydgate was to be
chief medical superintendent, that he might have
free authority to pursue all comparative investi-
gations which his studies, particularly in Paris,
had shown him the importance of, the other
medical visitors having a consultative influence,
but no power to contravene Lydgate's ultimate
decisions ; and the general management was to be
lodged exclusively in the hands of five directors
associated with Mr Bulstrode, who were to have
votes in the ratio of their contributions, the Board
itself filling up any vacancy in its numbers, and
no mob of small contributors being admitted to a
share of government.
There was an immediate refusal on the part of
every medical man in the town to become a visitor
at the Fever Hospital.
"Very well," said Lydgate to Mr Bulstrode,
" we have a capital house-surgeon and dispenser, a
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 45
clear-headed, neat-handed fellow; we'll get Webbe
from Crabsley, as good a country practitioner as
any of them, to come over twice a- week, and in
case of any exceptional operation, Protheroe will
come from Brassing. I must work the harder,
that's all, and I have given up my post at the
Infirmary. The plan will flourish in spite of them,
and then they'll be glad to come in. Things can't
last as they are : there must be all sorts of reform
soon, and then young fellows may be glad to come
and study here." Lydgate was in high spirits.
" I shall not flinch, you may depend upon it,
Mr Lydgate," said Mr Bulstrode. "While I see
you carrying out high intentions with vigour, you
shall have my unfailing support. And I have
humble confidence that the blessing which has
hitherto attended my efforts against the spirit of
evil in this town will not be withdrawn. Suitable
directors to assist me I have no doubt of securing.
Mr Brooke of Tipton has already given me his
concurrence, and a pledge to contribute yearly :
he has not specified the sum probably not a
great one. But he will be a useful member of the
A useful member was perhaps to be defined
as one who would originate nothing, and always
vote with Mr Bulstrode.
The medical aversion to Lydgate was hardly
disguised now. Neither Dr Sprague nor Dr
Minchin said that he disliked Lydgate's know-
ledge, or his disposition to improve treatment:
what they disliked was his arrogance, which
nobody felt to be altogether deniable. They
implied that he was insolent, pretentious, and
given to that reckless innovation for the sake of
noise and show which was the essence of the
The word charlatan once thrown on the air
could not be let drop. In those days the world
was agitated about the wondrous doings of Mr St
John Long, " noblemen and gentlemen " attesting
his extraction of a fluid like mercury from the
temples of a patient.
Mr Toller remarked one day, smilingly, to Mrs
Taft, that " Bulstrode had found a man to suit
him in Lydgate ; a charlatan in religion is sure to
like other sorts of charlatans."
"Yes, indeed, I can imagine," said Mrs Taft,
keeping the number of thirty stitches carefully in
her mind all the while; "there are so many of
that sort. I remember Mr Cheshire, with his
irons, trying to make people straight when the
Almighty had made them crooked."
"No, no," said Mr Toller, "Cheshire was all
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 47
right all fair and above board. But there's St
John Long that's the kind of fellow we call
a charlatan, advertising cures in ways nobody
knows anything about : a fellow who wants to
make a noise by pretending to go deeper than
other people. The other day he was pretending
'to tap a man's brain and get quicksilver out of it."
" Good gracious ! what dreadful trifling with
people's constitutions!" said Mrs Taft.
After this, it came to be held in various quar-
ters that Lydgate played even with respectable
constitutions for his own purposes, and how much
more likely that in his flighty experimenting he
should make sixes and sevens of hospital patients.
Especially it was to be expected, as the landlady
of the Tankard had said, that he would recklessly
cut up their dead bodies. For Lydgate having
attended Mrs Goby, who died apparently of a
heart-disease not very clearly expressed in the
symptoms, too daringly asked leave of her rela-
tives to open the body, and thus gave an offence
quickly spreading beyond Parley Street, where
that lady had long resided on an income such
as made this association of her body with the
victims of Burke and Hare a flagrant insult to
Affairs were in this stage when Lydgate opened
the subject of the Hospital to Dorothea. We see
that he was bearing enmity and silly misconcep-
tion with much spirit, aware that they were partly
created by his good share of success.
"They will not drive me away," he said, talk-
ing confidentially in Mr Farebrother's study. " I
have got a good opportunity here, for the ends I
care most about; and I am pretty sure to get
income enough for our wants. By-and-by I shall
go on as quietly as possible : I have no seductions
now away from home and work. And I am more
and more convinced that it will be possible to de-
monstrate the homogeneous origin of all the
tissues. Easpail and others are on the same
track, and I have been losing time."
" I have no power of prophecy there," said Mr
Farebrother, who had been puffing at his pipe
thoughtfully while Lydgate talked ; " but as to the
hostility in the town, you'll weather it, if you are
"How am I to be prudent?" said Lydgate.
" I just do what comes before me to do. I can't
help people's ignorance and spite, any more than
Vesalius could. It isn't possible to square one's
conduct to silly conclusions which nobody can
"Quite true; I didn't mean that. I meant
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 49
only two things. One is, keep yourself as separ-
able from Bulstrode as you can : of course, you
can go on doing good work of your own by his
help ; but don't get tied. Perhaps it seems like
personal feeling in me to say so and there's a
good deal of that, I own but personal feeling
is not always in the wrong if you boil it down
to the impressions which make it simply an
"Bulstrode is nothing to me," said Lydgate,
carelessly, "except on public grounds. As to
getting very closely united to him, I am not fond
enough of him for that. But what was the other
thing you meant ? " said Lydgate, who was nurs-
ing his leg as comfortably as possible, and feeling
in no great need of advice.
"Why, this. Take care experto crede take
care not to get hampered about money matters.
I know, by a word you let fall one day, that you
don't like my playing at cards so much for
money. You are right enough there. But try
and keep clear of wanting small sums that you
haven't got. I am perhaps talking rather super-
fluously ; but a man likes to assume superiority
over himself, by holding up his bad example and
sermonising on it."
Lydgate took Mr Farebrother's hints very cor-
VOL. III. D
dially, though he would hardly have borne them
from another man. He could not help remember-
ing that he had lately made some debts, but these
had seemed inevitable, and he had no intention
now to do more than keep house in a simple way.
The furniture for which he owed would not want
renewing ; nor even the stock of wine for a long
Many thoughts cheered him at that time and
justly. A man conscious of enthusiasm for worthy
aims is sustained under petty hostilities by the
memory of great workers who had to fight their
way not without wounds, and who hover in his
mind as patron saints, invisibly helping. At
home, that same evening when he had been chat-
ting with Mr Farebrother, he had his long legs
stretched on the sofa, his head thrown back, and his
hands clasped behind it according to his favourite
ruminating attitude, while Eosamond sat at the
piano, and played one tune after another, of which
her husband only knew (like the emotional ele-
phant he was !) that they fell in with his mood as
if they had been melodious sea-breezes.
There was something very fine in Lydgate's
look just then, and any one might have been
encouraged to bet on his achievement. In his
dark eyes and on his mouth and brow there was
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 51
that placidity which comes from the fulness of
contemplative thought the mind not searching,
but beholding, and the glance seeming to be filled
with what is behind it.
Presently Eosamond left the piano and seated
herself on a chair close to the sofa and opposite
her husband's face.
" Is that enough music for you, my lord ? " she
said, folding her hands before her and putting on
a little air of meekness.
"Yes, dear, if you are tired/' said Lydgate,
gently, turning his eyes and resting them on her,
but not otherwise moving. Eosamond's presence
at that moment was perhaps no more than a
spoonful brought to the lake, and her woman's
instinct in this matter was not dull.
"What is absorbing you?" she said, leaning
forward and bringing her face nearer to his.
He moved his hands and placed them gently
behind her shoulders.
"I am thinking of a great fellow, who was
about as old as I am three hundred years ago,
and had already begun a new era in anatomy."
"I can't guess," said Eosamond, shaking her
head. " We used to play at guessing historical
characters at Mrs Lemon's, but not anatomists." .
" I'll tell you. His name was Vesalius. And
the only way he could get to know anatomy as
he did, was by going to snatch bodies at night,
from graveyards and places of execution/'
" Oh ! " said Eosamond, with a look of disgust
in her pretty face, " I am very glad you are not
Yesalius. I should have thought he might find
some less horrible way than that."
" No, he couldn't," said Lydgate, going on too
earnestly to take much notice of her answer.
"He could only get a complete skeleton by
snatching the whitened bones of a criminal from
the gallows, and burying them, and fetching them
away by bits secretly, in the dead of night."
" I hope he is not one of your great heroes,"
said Eosamond, half -play fully, half - anxiously,
"else I shall have you getting up in the night
to go to St Peter's churchyard. You know how
angry you told me the people were about Mrs
Goby. You have enemies enough already."
" So had Vesalius, Eosy. "No wonder the med-
ical fogies in Middlemarch are jealous, when
some of the greatest doctors living were fierce
upon Vesalius because they had believed in
Galen, and he showed that Galen was wrong.
They called him a liar and a poisonous monster.
But the facts of the human frame were on his
side ; and so he got the better of them."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 53
" And what happened to him afterwards ? " said
Eosamond, with some interest.
" Oh, he had a good deal of fighting to the last.
And they did exasperate him enough at one time
to make him burn a good deal of his work. Then
he got shipwrecked, just as he was coming from
Jerusalem to take a great chair at Padua. He
died rather miserably."
There was a moment's pause before Kosamond
said, " Do you know, Tertius, I often wish you had
not been a medical man."
"Nay, Eosy, don't say that/' said Lydgate,
drawing her closer to him. " That is like saying
you wish you had married another man."
"Not at all; you are clever enough for any-
thing: you might easily have been something
else. And your cousins at Quallingham all think
that you have sunk below them in your choice of
"The cousins at Quallingham may go to the
devil ! " said Lydgate, with scorn. " It was like
their impudence if they said anything of the sort
" Still," said Eosamond, " I do not think it is a
nice profession, dear." We know that she had
much quiet perseverance in her opinion.
"It is the grandest profession in the world,
Kosamond," said Lydgate, gravely. " And to say
that you love me without loving the medical man
in me, is like saying that you like eating a peach
but don't like its flavour. Don't say it again, dear,
it pains me."
"Very well, Doctor Grave-face," said Rosy,
dimpling, " I will declare in future that I dote on
skeletons, and body-snatchers, and bits of things
in phials, and quarrels with everybody, that end
in your dying miserably."
"No, no, not so bad as that," said Lydgate,
giving up remonstrance and petting her resign-
"Pues no podemos haber aquello que queremos, queramos aquello que
"Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get."
WHILE Lydgate, safely married and with the
Hospital under his command, felt himself strug-
gling for Medical Eeform against Middlemarch,
Middlemarch was becoming more and more con-
scious of the national struggle for another kind of
By the time that Lord John KusselTs measure
was being debated in the House of Commons,
there was a new political animation in Middle-
march, and a new definition of parties which
might show a decided change of balance if a
new election came. And there were some who
already predicted this event, declaring that a
Eeform Bill would never be carried by the ac-
tual Parliament. This was what Will Ladislaw
dwelt on to Mr Brooke as a reason for congrat-
ulation that lie had not yet tried his strength at
"Things will grow and ripen as if it were a
comet year," said Will. " The public temper will
soon get to a cometary heat, now the question of
Reform, has set in. There is likely to be another
election before long, and by that time Middle-
march will have got more ideas into its head.
What we have to work at now is the ' Pioneer '
and political meetings."
" Quite right, Ladislaw ; we shall make a new
thing of opinion here," said Mr Brooke. " Only
I want to keep myself independent about Reform,
you know : I don't want to go too far. I want to
take up Wilberforce's and Komilly's line, you
know, and work at Negro Emancipation, Criminal
Law that kind of thing. But of course I should
" If you go in for the principle of Keform, you
must be prepared to take what the situation offers,"
said Will. " If everybody pulled for his own bit
against everybody else, the whole question would
go to tatters."
" Yes, yes, I agree with you I quite take that
point of view. I should put it in that light. I
should support Grey, you know. But I don't
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 57
want to change the balance of the constitution,
and I don't think Grey would."
"But that is what the country wants," said
Will. " Else there would be no meaning in poli-
tical unions or any other movement that knows
what it's about. It wants to have a House of
Commons which is not weighted with nominees
of the landed class, but with representatives of
the other interests. And as to contending for a
reform short of that, it is like asking for a bit
of an avalanche which has already begun to
" That is fine, Ladislaw : that is the way to put
it. Write that down, now. We must begin to
get documents about the feeling of the country,
as well as the machine -breaking and general
" As to documents," said Will, "a two-inch card
will hold plenty. A few rows of figures are
enough to deduce misery from, and a few more
will show the rate at which the political deter-
mination of the people is growing."
" Good : draw that out a little more at length,
Ladislaw. That is an idea, now : write it out in
the 'Pioneer.' Put the figures and deduce the
misery, you know ; and put the other figures and
deduce and so on. You have a way of putting
things. Burke, now : when I think of Burke, I
can't help wishing somebody had a pocket-borough
to give you, Ladislaw. You'd never get elected,
you know. And we shall always want talent in
the House: reform as we will, we shall always
want talent. That avalanche and the thunder,
now, was really a little like Burke. I want that
sort of thing not ideas, you know, but a way of
" Pocket-boroughs would be a fine thing/' said
Ladislaw, "if they were always in the right pocket,
and there were always a Burke at hand."
Will was not displeased with that compliment-
ary comparison, even from Mr Brooke ; for it is a
little too trying to human flesh to be conscious of
expressing one's self better than others and never
to have it noticed, and in the general dearth of
admiration for the right thing, even a chance bray
of applause falling exactly in time is rather forti-
fying. Will felt that his literary refinements were
usually beyond the limits of Middlemarch percep-
tion ; nevertheless, he was beginning thoroughly
to like the work of which when he began he had
said to himself rather languidly, "Why not?" and
he studied the political situation with as ardent
an interest as he had ever given to poetic metres
or mediae valism. It is undeniable that but for the
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 59'
desire to be where Dorothea was, and perhaps the
want of knowing what else to do, Will would not
at this time have been meditating on the needs of
the English people or criticising English states-
manship : he would probably have been rambling
in Italy sketching plans for several dramas, trying
prose and finding it too jejune, trying verse and
finding it too artificial, beginning to copy " bits "
from old pictures, leaving off because they were
"no good," and observing that, after all, self-culture
was the principal point; while in politics he would
have been sympathising warmly with liberty and
progress in general. Our sense of duty must often
wait for some work which shall take the place of
dilettanteism and make us feel that the quality of
our action is not a matter of indifference.
Ladislaw had now accepted his bit of work,
though it was not that indeterminate loftiest
thing which he had once dreamed of as alone
worthy of continuous effort. His nature warmed
easily in the presence of subjects which were
visibly mixed with life and action, and the easily-
stirred rebellion in him helped the glow of public
spirit. In spite of Mr Casaubon and the banish-
ment from Lowick, he was rather happy ; getting
a great deal of fresh knowledge in a vivid way
and for practical purposes, and making the ( Pio-
neer' celebrated as far as Brassing (never mind the
smallness of the area ; the writing was not worse
than much that reaches the four corners of the
Mr Brooke was occasionally irritating; but
Will's impatience was relieved by the division of
his time between visits to the Grange and retreats
to his Middlemarch lodgings, which gave variety
to his life.
" Shift the pegs a little," he said to himself,
" and Mr Brooke might be in the Cabinet, while
I was Under-Secretary. That is the common order
of things : the little waves make the large ones
and are of the same pattern. I am better here
than in the sort of life Mr Casaubon would have
trained me for, where the doing would be all laid
down by a precedent too rigid for me to react
upon. I don't care for prestige or high pay."
As Lydgate had said of him, he was a sort of
gypsy, rather enjoying the sense of belonging to no
class ; he had a feeling of romance in his position,
and a pleasant consciousness of creating a little sur-
prise wherever he went. That sort of enjoyment
had been disturbed when he had felt some new
distance between himself and Dorothea in their
accidental meeting at Lydgate's, and his irritation
had gone out towards Mr Casaubon, who had de-
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 61
clared beforehand that Will would lose caste. " I
never had any caste/' he would have said, if that
prophecy had been uttered to him, and the quick
blood would have come and gone like breath in
his transparent skin. But it is one thing to like
defiance, and another thing to like its consequences.
Meanwhile, the town opinion about the new
editor of the ' Pioneer' was tending to confirm
Mr Casaubon's view. Will's relationship in that
distinguished quarter did not, like Lydgate's high
connections, serve as an advantageous introduc-
tion: if it was rumoured that young Ladislaw
was Mr Casaubon's nephew or cousin, it was also
rumoured that " Mr Casaubon would have nothing
to do with him."
" Brooke has taken him up," said Mr Hawley,
" because that is what no man in his senses could
have expected. Casaubon has devilish good
reasons, you may be sure, for turning the cold
shoulder on a young fellow whose bringing-up
he paid for. Just like Brooke one of those
fellows who would praise a cat to sell a horse."
And some oddities of Will's, more or less poet-
ical, appeared to support Mr Keck, the editor of
the ' Trumpet,' in asserting that Ladislaw, if the
truth were known, was not only a Polish emissary
but crack-brained, which accounted for the preter-
natural quickness and glibness of his speech when
he got on to a platform as he did whenever he
had an opportunity, speaking with a facility which
cast reflections on solid Englishmen generally.
It was disgusting to Keck to see a strip of a
fellow, with light curls round his head, get up
and speechify by the hour against institutions
" which had existed when he was in his cradle."
And in a leading article of the ' Trumpet,' Keck
characterised Ladislaw's speech at a Eeform meet-
ing as "the violence of an energumen a miserable
effort to shroud in the brilliancy of fireworks the
daring of irresponsible statements and the poverty
of a knowledge which was of the cheapest and
most recent description."
" That was a rattling article yesterday, Keck,"
said Dr Sprague, with sarcastic intentions. " But
what is an energumen?"
" Oh, a term that came up in the French Eevolu-
tion," said Keck.
This dangerous aspect of Ladislaw was strangely
contrasted with other habits which became matter
of remark. He had a fondness, half artistic, half
affectionate, for little children the smaller they
were on tolerably active legs, and the funnier
their clothing, the better Will liked to surprise
and please them. We know that in Eome he was
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 63
given to ramble about among the poor people,
and the taste did not quit him in Middlemarch.
He had somehow picked up a troop of droll chil-
dren, little hatless boys with their galligaskins much
worn and scant shirting to hang out, little girls
who tossed their hair out of their eyes to look at
him, and guardian brothers at the mature age of
seven. This troop he had led out on gypsy ex-
cursions to Halsell Wood at nutting-time, and since
the cold weather had set in he had taken them on
a clear day to gather sticks for a bonfire in the
hollow of a hillside, where he drew out a small
feast of gingerbread for them, and improvised a
Punch-and-Judy drama with some private home-
made puppets. Here was one oddity. Another
was, that in houses where he got friendly, he was
given to stretch himself at full length on the rug
while he talked, and was apt to be discovered in
this attitude by occasional callers for whom such
an irregularity was likely to confirm the notions
of his dangerously mixed blood and general laxity.
But Will's articles and speeches naturally re-
commended him in families which the new strict-
ness of party division had marked off on the side
of Eeform. He was invited to Mr Bulstrode's;
but here he could not lie down on the rug, and
Mrs Bulstrode felt that his mode of talking about
Catholic countries, as if there were any tmce with
Antichrist, illustrated the usual tendency to un-
soundness in intellectual men.
At Mr Farebrother's, however, whom the irony
of events had brought on the same side with Bui-
strode in the national movement, Will became a
favourite with the ladies ; especially with little
Miss Noble, whom it was one of his oddities to
escort when he met her in the street with her little
basket, giving her his arm in the eyes of the town,
and insisting on going with her to pay some call
where she distributed her small filchings from her
own share of sweet things.
But the house where he visited oftenest and
lay most on the rug was Lydgate's. The two
men were not at all alike, but they agreed
none the worse. Lydgate was abrupt but not
irritable, taking little notice of megrims in healthy
people ; and Ladislaw did not usually throw away
his susceptibilities on those who took no notice of
them. With Eosamond, on the other hand, he
pouted and was wayward nay, often uncompli-
mentary, much to her inward surprise ; neverthe-
less he was gradually becoming necessary to her
entertainment by his companionship in her music,
his varied talk, and his freedom from the grave
preoccupation which, with all her husband's ten-
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 65
derness and indulgence, often made his manners
unsatisfactory to her, and confirmed her dislike of
the medical profession.
Lydgate, inclined to be sarcastic on the supersti-
tious faith of the people in the efficacy of " the
bill," while nobody cared about the low state of
pathology, sometimes assailed Will with trouble-
some questions. One evening in March, Eosa-
mond in her cherry-coloured dress with swansdown
trimming about the throat sat at the tea-table ;
Lydgate, lately come in tired from his outdoor
work, was seated sideways on an easy-chair by the
fire with one leg over the elbow, his brow looking
a little troubled as his eyes rambled over the
columns of the ' Pioneer/ while Eosamond, having
noticed that he was perturbed, avoided looking at
him, and inwardly thanked heaven that she her-
self had not a moody disposition. Will Ladislaw
was stretched on the rug contemplating the curtain-
pole abstractedly, and humming very low the notes
of " When first I saw thy face ; " while the house
spaniel, also stretched out with small choice of
room, looked from between his paws at the usurper
of the rug with silent but strong objection.
Eosamond bringing Lydgate his cup of tea, he
threw down the paper, and said to Will, who had
started up and gone to the table
VOL. in. K
" It's no use your puffing Brooke as a reforming
landlord, Ladislaw : they only pick the more holes
in his coat in the ' Trumpet.' "
" No matter; those who read the 'Pioneer' don't
read the ' Trumpet,'" said Will, swallowing his tea
and walking about. " Do- you suppose the public
reads with a view to its own conversion? We
should have a witches' brewing with a vengeance
then ' Mingle, mingle, mingle, mingle, You that
mingle may ' and nobody would know which side
he was going to take."
"Farebrother says, he doesn't believe Brooke
would get elected if the opportunity came: the
very men who profess to be for him would bring
another member out of the bag at the right
" There's no harm in trying. It's good to have
" Why ?" said Lydgate, who was much given to
use that inconvenient word in a curt tone.
" They represent the local stupidity better," said
Will, laughing, and shaking his curls ; " and they
are kept on their best behaviour in the neighbour-
hood. Brooke is not a bad fellow, but he has done
some good things on his estate that he never would
have done but for this Parliamentary bite."
' He's not fit to be a public man," said Lydgate.
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 67
with contemptuous decision. " He would disap-
point everybody who counted on him : I can see
that at the Hospital. Only, there Bulstrode holds
the reins and drives him."
" That depends on how you fix your standard of
public men," said Will. " He's good enough for
the occasion : when the people have made up their
mind as they are making it up now, they don't
want a man they only want a vote."
"That is the way with you political writers,
Ladislaw crying up a measure as if it were a
universal cure, and crying up men who are a part
of the very disease that wants curing."
" Why not ? Men may help to cure themselves
off the face of the land without knowing it," said
Will, who could find reasons impromptu, when he
had not thought of a question beforehand.
" That is no excuse for encouraging the supersti-
tious exaggeration of hopes about this particular
measure, helping the cry to swallow it whole and
to send up voting popinjays who are good for no-
thing but to carry it. You go against rottenness,
and there is nothing more thoroughly rotten than
making people believe that society can be cured
by a political hocus-pocus."
" That's very fine, my dear fellow. But your
cure must begin somewhere, and put it that a
thousand things which debase a population can
never be reformed without this particular reform
to begin with. Look what Stanley said the other
day that the House had been tinkering long
enough at small questions of bribery, inquiring
whether this or that voter has had a guinea when
everybody knows that the seats have been sold
wholesale. Wait for wisdom and conscience in
public agents fiddlestick ! The only conscience
we can trust to is the massive sense of wrong in a
class, and the best wisdom that will work is the
wisdom of balancing claims. That's my text
which side is injured? I support the man who
supports their claims; not the virtuous upholder
of the wrong/'
"That general talk about a particular case is
mere question-begging, Ladislaw. When I say, I
go in for the dose that cures, it doesn't follow that
I go in for opium in a given case of gout."
" I am not begging the question we are upon
whether we are to try for nothing till we find im-
maculate men to work with. Should you go on
that plan? If there were one man who would
carry you a medical reform and another who would
oppose it, should you inquire which had the better
motives or even the better brains ?"
"Oh, of course," said Lydgate, seeing himself
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 69
checkmated by a move which he had often used
himself, " if one did not work with such men as
are at hand, things must come to a dead-lock.
Suppose the worst opinion in the town about Bui-
strode were a true one, that would not make it less
true that he has the sense and the resolution to do
what I think ought to be done in the matters I
know and care most about ; but that is the only
ground on which I go with him/* Lydgate added
rather proudly, bearing in mind Mr Farebrother's
remarks. " He is nothing to me otherwise ; I would
not cry him up on any personal ground I would
keep clear of that."
"Do you mean that I cry up Brooke on any
personal ground ?" said Will Ladislaw, nettled, and
turning sharp round. For the first time he felt
offended with Lydgate ; not the less so, perhaps,
because he would have declined any close inquiry
into the growth of his relation to Mr Brooke.
" !Nbt at all," said Lydgate, " I was simply ex-
plaining my own action. I meant that a man may
work for a special end with others whose motives
and general course are equivocal, if he is quite sure
of his personal independence, and that he is not
working for his private interest either place or
" Then, why don't you extend your liberality
to others ?" said Will, still nettled. " My personal
independence is as important to me as yours is to
you. You have no more reason to imagine that I
have personal expectations from Brooke, than I
have to imagine that you have personal expecta-
tions from Bulstrode. Motives are points of hon-
our, I suppose nobody can prove them. But as
to money and place in the world," Will ended,
tossing back his head, " I think it is pretty clear
that I am not determined by considerations of
"You quite mistake me, Ladislaw," said Lyd-
gate, surprised. He had been preoccupied with his
own vindication, and had been blind to what
Ladislaw might infer on his own account. " I beg
your pardon for unintentionally annoying you. In
fact, I should rather attribute to you a romantic
disregard of your own worldly interests. On the
political question, I referred simply to intellectual
" How very unpleasant you both are this even-
ing ! " said Eosamond. " I cannot conceive why
money should have been referred to. Politics
and medicine are sufficiently disagreeable to
quarrel upon. You can both of you go on quar-
relling with all the world and with each other on
those two topics."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 71
Kosamond looked mildly neutral as she said
this, rising to ring the bell, and then crossing to
" Poor Eosy ! " said Lydgate, putting out his
hand to her as she was passing him. " Disputa-
tion is not amusing to cherubs. Have some
music. Ask Ladislaw to sing with you."
When Will was gone Eosamond said to her
husband, "What put you out of temper this
evening, Tertius ? "
" Me ? It was Ladislaw who was out of tem-
per. He is like a bit of tinder."
"But I mean, before that. Something had
vexed you before you came in , you looked cross.
And that made you begin to dispute with Mr
Ladislaw. You hurt me very much when you
look so, Tertius."
"Do I ? Then I am a brute," said Lydgate,
caressing her penitently.
" What vexed you ?"
" Oh, outdoor things business."
It was really a letter insisting on the payment
of a bill for furniture. But Eosamond was ex-
pecting to have a baby, and Lydgate wished to
save her from any perturbation.
Was never true love loved in vain,
For truest love is highest gain.
No art can make it : it must spring
Where elements are fostering.
So in heaven's spot and hour
Springs the little native flower,
Downward root and upward eye,
Shapen by the earth and sky.
IT happened to be on a Saturday evening that Will
Ladislaw had that little discussion with Lydgate.
Its effect when he went to his own rooms was to
make him sit up half the night, thinking over
again, under a new irritation, all that he had be-
fore thought of his having settled in Middlemarch
and harnessed himself with Mr Brooke. Hesi-
tations before he had taken the step had since
turned into susceptibility to every hint that he
would have been wiser not to take it ; and hence
came his heat towards Lydgate a heat which
still kept him restless. Was he not making a
fool of himself? and at a time when he was
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 73
more than ever conscious of being something
better than a fool ? And for what end ?
Well, for no definite end. True, he had dreamy
visions of possibilities : there is no human being
who having both passions and thoughts does not
think in consequence of his passions does not
find images rising in his mind which soothe the
passion with hope or sting it with dread. But
this, which happens to us all, happens to some
with a wide difference ; and Will was not one of
those whose wit "keeps the roadway:" he had
his bypaths where there were little joys of his
own choosing, such as gentlemen cantering on
the highroad might have thought rather idiotic.
The way in which he made a sort of happiness
for himself out of his feeling for Dorothea was an
example of this. It may seem strange, but it is
the fact, that the ordinary vulgar vision of which
Mr Casaubon suspected him namely, that Doro-
thea might become a widow, and that the interest
he had established in her mind might turn into
acceptance of him as a husband had no tempt-
ing, arresting power over him he did not live in
the scenery of such an event, and follow it out, as
we all do with that imagined " otherwise" which
is our practical heaven. It was not only that he
was unwilling to entertain thoughts which could
be accused of baseness, and was already uneasy in
the sense that he had to justify himself from the
charge of ingratitude the latent consciousness of
many other barriers between himself and Dorothea
besides the existence of her husband, had helped
to turn away his imagination from speculating on
what might befall Mr Casaubon. And there were
yet other reasons. Will, we know, could not bear
the thought of any flaw appearing in his crystal :
he was at once exasperated and delighted by the
calm freedom with which Dorothea looked at him
and spoke to him, and there was something so ex-
quisite in thinking of her just as she was, that he
could not long for a change which must somehow
change her. Do we not shun the street version
of a fine melody ? or shrink from the news that
the rarity some bit of chiselling or engraving
perhaps which we have dwelt on even with
exultation in the trouble it has cost us to snatch
glimpses of it, is really not an uncommon thing,
and may be obtained as an everyday possession ?
Our good depends on the quality and breadth of
our emotion ; and to Will, a creature who cared
little for what are called the solid things of life
and greatly for its subtler influences, to have
within him such a feeling as he had towards Doro-
thea, was like the inheritance of a fortune. What
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 75
others might have called the futility of his passion,
made an additional delight for his imagination :
he was conscious of a generous movement, and of
verifying in his own experience that higher love-
poetry which had charmed his fancy. Dorothea,
he said to himself, was for ever enthroned in his
soul : no other woman could sit higher than her
footstool; and if he could have written out in
immortal syllables the effect she wrought within
him, he might have boasted after the example of
old Drayton, that
" Queens hereafter might be glad to live
Upon the alms of her superfluous praise."
But this result was questionable. And what else
could he do for Dorothea ? What was his devo-
tion worth to her? It was impossible to tell.
He would not go out of her reach. He saw no
creature among her friends to whom he could
believe that she spoke with the same simple confi-
dence as to him. She had once said that she would
like him to stay ; and stay he would, whatever
fire-breathing dragons might hiss around her.
This had always been the conclusion of Will's
hesitations. But he was not without contradic-
toriness and rebellion even towards his own re-
solve. He had often got irritated, as he was on
this particular night, by some outside demonstra-
tion tliat his public exertions with Mr Brooke as
a chief could not seem as heroic as he would like
them to be, and this was always associated with
the other ground of irritation that notwithstand-
ing his sacrifice of dignity for Dorothea's sake, he
could hardly ever see her. Whereupon, not being
able to contradict these unpleasant facts, he con-
tradicted his own strongest bias and said, " I am
Nevertheless, since the inward debate neces-
sarily turned on Dorothea, he ended, as he had
done before, only by getting a livelier sense of
what her presence would be to him ; and suddenly
reflecting that the morrow would be Sunday, he
determined to go to Lowick Church and see her.
He slept upon that idea, but when he was dressing
in the rational morning light, Objection said
"That will be a virtual defiance of Mr Casau-
bon's prohibition to visit Lowick, and Dorothea
will be displeased."
" Nonsense I " argued Inclination, " it would be
too monstrous for him to hinder me from going out
to a pretty country church on a spring morning.
And Dorothea will be glad."
"It will be clear to Mr Casaubon that you
have come either to annoy him or to see Doro-
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 77
"It is not true that I go to annoy him, and
why should I not go to see Dorothea ? Is he to
have everything to himself and be always com-
fortable ? Let him smart a little, as other people
are obliged to do. I have always liked the quaint-
ness of the church and congregation ; besides, I
know the Tuckers : I shall go into their pew."
Having silenced Objection by force of unreason,
Will walked to Lowick as if he had been on the
way to Paradise, crossing Halsell Common and
skirting the wood, where the sunlight fell broadly
under the budding boughs, bringing out the
beauties of moss and lichen, and fresh green
growths piercing the brown. Everything seemed
to know that it was Sunday, and to approve of his
going to Lowick Church. Will easily felt happy
when nothing crossed his humour, and by this
time the thought of vexing Mr Casaubon had
become rather amusing to him, making his face
break into its merry smile, pleasant to see as the
breaking of sunshine on the water though the
occasion was not exemplary. But most of us are
apt to settle within ourselves that the man who
blocks our way is odious, and not to mind
causing him a little of the disgust which his per-
sonality excites in ourselves. Will went along
with a small book under his arm and a hand in
each side-pocket, never reading, but chanting a
little, as he made scenes of what would happen in
church and coming out. He was experimenting
in tunes to suit some words of his own, sometimes
trying a ready-made melody, sometimes impro-
vising. The words were not exactly a hymn, but
they certainly fitted his Sunday experience :
me, me, what frugal cheer
My love doth feed upon !
A touch, a ray, that is not here,
A shadow that is gone :
A dream of breath that might be near,
An inly-echoed tone,
The thought that one may think me dear,
The place where one was known,
The tremor of a banished fear,
An ill that was not done
me, me, what frugal cheer
My love doth feed upon !
Sometimes, when he took off his hat, shaking
his head backward, and showing his delicate
throat as he sang, he looked like an incarnation of
the- spring whose spirit filled the air a bright
creature, abundant in uncertain promises.
The bells were still ringing when he got to
Lowick, and he went into the curate's pew before
any one else arrived there. But he was still left
alone in it when the congregation had assembled.
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 79
The curate's pew was opposite the rector's at the
entrance of the small chancel, and Will had time
to fear that Dorothea might not come while he
looked round at the group of rural faces which
made the congregation from year to year within
the white-washed walls and dark old pews, hardly
with more change than we see in the boughs of
a tree which breaks here and there with age, but
yet has young shoots. Mr Rigg's frog-face was
something alien and unaccountable, but notwith-
standing this shock to the order of things, there
were still the Waules and the rural stock of the
Powderells in their pews side by side ; brother
Samuel's cheek had the same purple round as
ever, and the three generations of decent cottagers
came as of old with a sense of duty to their betters
generally the smaller children regarding Mr
Casaubon, who wore the black gown and mounted
to the highest box, as probably the chief of all
betters, and the one most awful if offended. Even
in 1831 Lowick was at peace, not more agitated
by Reform than by the solemn tenor of the Sunday
sermon. The congregation had been used to seeing
Will at church in former days, and no one took
much note of him except the quire, who expected
him to make a figure in the singing.
Dorothea did at last appear on this quaint
background, walking up the short aisle in her
white beaver bonnet and grey cloak the same
she had worn in the Vatican. Her face being,
from her entrance, towards the chancel, even her
short-sighted eyes soon discerned Will, but there
was no outward show of her feeling except a slight
paleness and a grave bow as she passed him. To
his own surprise Will felt suddenly uncomfortable,
and dared not look at her after they had bowed
to each other. Two minutes later, when Mr Casau-
bon came out of the vestry, and, entering the pew,
seated himself in face of Dorothea, Will felt his
paralysis more complete. He could look nowhere
except at the quire in the little gallery over the
vestry-door : Dorothea was perhaps pained, and he
had made a wretched blunder. It was no longer
amusing to vex Mr Casaubon, who had the advan-
tage probably of watching him and seeing that he
dared not turn his head. Why had he not ima-
gined this beforehand ? but he could not expect
that he should sit in that square pew alone, un-
relieved by any Tuckers, who had apparently de-
parted from Lowick altogether, for a new clergy-
man was in the desk. Still he called himself
stupid now for not foreseeing that it would be im-
possible for him to look towards Dorothea nay,
that she might feel his coming an impertinence.
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 81
There was no delivering himself from his cage,
however ; and Will found his places and looked
at his book as if he had been a schoolmistress,
feeling that the morning service had never been
so immeasurably long before, that he was utterly
ridiculous, out of temper, and miserable. This
was what a man got by worshipping the sight of
a woman ! The clerk observed with surprise that
Mr Ladislaw did not join in the tune of Hanover,
and reflected that he might have a cold.
Mr Casaubon did not preach that morning, and
there was no change in Will's situation until the
blessing had been pronounced and every one rose.
It was the fashion at Lowick for "the betters" to
go out first. With a sudden determination to
break the spell that was upon him, Will looked
straight at Mr Casaubon. But that gentleman's
eyes were on the button of the pew-door, which he
opened, allowing Dorothea to pass, and follow-
ing her immediately without raising his eyelids.
Will's glance had caught Dorothea's as she turned
out of the pew, and again she bowed, but this time
with a look of agitation, as if she were repressing
tears. Will walked out after them, but they went
on toward the little gate leading out of the
churchyard into the shrubbery, never looking
VOL. nr. F
It was impossible for him to follow them, and
he could only walk back sadly at mid-day along
the same road which he had trodden hopefully in
the morning. The lights were all changed for him
both without and within.
Surely the golden hours are turning grey
And dance no more, and vainly strive to run :
I see their white locks streaming in the wind-
Each face is haggard as it looks at me,
Slow turning in the constant clasping round
DOROTHEA'S distress when she was leaving the
church came chiefly from the perception that Mr
Casaubon was determined not to speak to his
cousin, and that Will's presence at church had
served to mark more strongly the alienation be-
tween them. Will's coming seemed to her quite
excusable, nay, she thought it an amiable move-
ment in him towards a reconciliation which she
herself had been constantly wishing for. He had
probably imagined, as she had, that if Mr Casau-
bon and he could meet easily, they would shake
hands and friendly intercourse might return. But
now Dorothea felt quite robbed of that hope.
Will was banished further than ever, for Mr
Casaubon must have been newly imbittered by
this thrusting upon him of a presence which he
refused to recognise.
He had not been very well that morning, suf-
fering from some difficulty in breathing, and had
not preached in consequence ; she was not sur-
prised, therefore, that he was nearly silent at
luncheon, still less that he made no allusion to
"Will Ladislaw. For her own part she felt that
she could never again introduce that subject.
They usually spent apart the hours between
luncheon and dinner on a Sunday ; Mr Casaubon
in the library dozing chiefly, and Dorothea in her
boudoir, where she was wont to occupy herself
with some of her favourite books. There was a
little heap of them on the table in the bow-win-
dow of various sorts, from Herodotus, which she
was learning to read with Mr Casaubon, to her
old companion Pascal, and Keble's ' Christian
Year.' But to-day she opened one after another,
and could read none of them. Everything seemed
dreary : the portents before the birth of Cyrus
Jewish antiquities oh dear! devout epigrams
the sacred chime of favourite hymns all alike
were as flat as tunes beaten on wood : even the
spring flowers and the grass had a dull shiver in
them under the afternoon clouds that hid the sun
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 85
fitfully; even the sustaining thoughts which had be-
come habits seemed to have in them the weariness
of long future days in which she would still live
with them for her sole companions. It was another
or rather a fuller sort of companionship that poor
Dorothea was hungering for, and the hunger had
grown from the perpetual effort demanded by her
married life. She was always trying to be what
her husband wished, and never able to repose on
his delight in what she was. The thing that
she liked, that she spontaneously cared to have,
seemed to be always excluded from her life ; for if
it was only granted and not shared by her hus-
band it might as well have been denied. About
Will Ladislaw there had been a difference be-
tween them from the first, and it had ended, since
Mr Casaubon had so severely repulsed Dorothea's
strong feeling about his claims on the family pro-
perty, by her being convinced that she was in the
right and her husband in the wrong, but that she
was helpless. This afternoon the helplessness
was more wretchedly benumbing than ever : she
longed for objects who could be dear to her, and
to whom she could be dear. She longed for work
which would be directly beneficent like the sun-
shine and the rain, and now it appeared that she
was to live more and more in a virtual tomb,
where there was the apparatus of a ghastly labour
producing what would never see the light. To-
day she had stood at the door of the tomb and
seen Will Ladislaw receding into the distant
world of warm activity and fellowship turning
his face towards her as he went.
Books were of no use. Thinking was of no use.
It was Sunday, and she could not have the carriage
to go to Celia, who had lately had a baby. There
was no refuge now from spiritual emptiness and
discontent, and Dorothea had to bear her bad
mood, as she would have borne a headache.
After dinner, at the hour when she usually be-
gan to read aloud, Mr Casaubon proposed that
they should go into the library, where, he said,
he had ordered a fire and lights. He seemed to
have revived, and to be thinking intently.
In the library Dorothea observed that he had
newly arranged a row of his note-books on a
table, and now he took up and put into her hand
a well-known volume, which was a table of con-
tents to all the others.
" You will oblige me, my dear," he said, seating
himself, " if instead of other reading this evening,
you will go through this aloud, pencil in hand,
and at each point where I say ' mark,' will make a
cross with your pencil. This is the first step in
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 87
a sifting process which I have long had in view,
and as we go on I shall be able to indicate to you
certain principles of selection whereby you will,
I trust, have an intelligent participation in my
This proposal was only one more sign added to
many since his memorable interview with Lyd-
gate, that Mr Casaubon's original reluctance to
let Dorothea work with him had given place to
the contrary disposition, namely, to demand much
interest and labour from her.
After she had read and marked for two hours,
he said, " We will take the volume up-stairs and
the pencil, if you please and in case of reading
in the night, we can pursue this task. It is not
wearisome to you, I trust, Dorothea?"
" I prefer always reading what you like best to
hear," said Dorothea, who told the simple truth ;
for what she dreaded was to exert herself in read-
ing or anything else which left him as joyless as
It was a proof of the force with which certain
characteristics in Dorothea impressed those around
her, that her husband, with all his jealousy and
suspicion, had gathered implicit trust in the in-
tegrity of her promises, and her power of devot-
ing herself to her idea of the right and best. Of
late lie had begun to feel that these qualities were
a peculiar possession for himself, and he wanted
to engross them.
The reading in the night did come. Dorothea
in her young weariness had slept soon and fast :
she was awakened by a sense of light, which
seemed to her at first like a sudden vision of
sunset after she had climbed a steep hill : she
opened her eyes, and saw her husband wrapt in
his warm gown seating himself in the arm-chair
near the fireplace where the embers were still
glowing. He had lit two candles, expecting that
Dorothea would awake, but not liking to rouse
her by more direct means.
"Are you ill, Edward?" she said, rising imme-
" I felt some uneasiness in a reclining posture.
I will sit here for a time." She threw wood on
the fire, wrapped herself up, and said, " You would
like me to read to you ? "
"You would oblige me greatly by doing so,
Dorothea," said Mr Casaubon, with a shade more
meekness than usual in his polite manner. " I
am wakeful : my mind is remarkably lucid."
" I fear that the excitement may be too great
for you," said Dorothea, remembering Lydgate's
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 89
" No, I am not conscious of undue excitement.
Thought is easy." Dorothea dared not insist, and
she read for an hour or more on the same plan
as she had done in the evening, but getting over
the pages with more quickness. Mr Casaubon's
mind was more alert, and he seemed to anticipate
what was coming after a very slight verbal indi-
cation, saying, "That will do mark that" or
" Pass on to the next head I omit the second
excursus on Crete." Dorothea was amazed to
think of the bird-like speed with which his mind
was surveying the ground where it had been
creeping for years. At last he said
" Close the book now, my dear. "We will re-
sume our work to-morrow. I have deferred it too
long, and would gladly see it completed. But
you observe that the principle on which my
selection is made, is to give adequate, and not
disproportionate illustration to each of the theses
enumerated in my Introduction, as at present
sketched. You have perceived that distinctly,
" Yes," said .Dorothea, rather tremulously. She
felt sick at heart.
" And now I think that I can take some re-
pose," said Mr Casaubon. He lay down again
and begged her to put out the lights. When she
had lain down too, and there was a darkness only
broken by a dull glow on the hearth, he said
"Before I sleep, I have a request to make,
"What is it?" said Dorothea, with dread in
" It is that you will let me know, deliberately,
whether, in case of my death, you will carry out
my wishes : whether you will avoid doing what
I should deprecate, and apply yourself to do what
I should desire."
Dorothea was not taken by surprise : many
incidents had been leading her to the conjecture of
some intention on her husband's part which might
make a new yoke for her. She did not answer
"You refuse?" said Mr Casaubon, with more
edge in his tone.
" No, I do not yet refuse," said Dorothea in a clear
voice, the need of freedom asserting itself within
her ; " but it is too solemn I think it is not right
to make a promise when I am ignorant what it
will bind me to. Whatever affection prompted
I would do without promising."
" But you would use your own judgment : I
ask you to obey mine ; you refuse."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 91
"No, dear, no I" said Dorothea, beseechingly,
crushed by opposing fears. "But may I wait
and reflect a little while? I desire with my
whole soul to do what will comfort you ; but I
cannot give any pledge suddenly still less a
pledge to do I know not what."
" You cannot then confide in the nature of my
wishes ? "
" Grant me till to-morrow," said Dorothea, be-
" Till to-morrow then," said Mr Casaubon.
Soon she could hear that he was sleeping, but
there was no more sleep for her. While she
constrained herself to lie still lest she should dis-
turb him, her mind was carrying on a conflict in
which imagination ranged its forces first on one side
and then on the other. She had no presentiment
that the power which her husband wished to
establish over her future action had relation to
anything else than his work. But it was clear
enough to her that he would expect her to devote
herself to sifting those mixed heaps of material,
which were to be the doubtful illustration of
principles still more doubtful. The poor child
had become altogether unbelieving as to the
trustworthiness of that Key which had made
the ambition and the labour of her husband's
life. It was not wonderful that, in spite of her
small instruction, her judgment in this matter
was truer than his : for she looked with unbiassed
comparison and healthy sense at probabilities on
which he had risked all his egoism. And now
she pictured to herself the days, and months, and
years which she must spend in sorting what might
be called shattered mummies, and fragments of a
tradition which was itself a mosaic, wrought from
crushed ruins sorting them as food for a theory
which was already withered in the birth like an
elfin child. Doubtless a vigorous error vigorously
pursued has kept the embryos of truth a-breath-
ing : the quest of gold being at the same time a
questioning of substances, the body of chemistry
is prepared for its soul, and Lavoisier is born. But
Mr Casaubon's theory of the elements which made
the seed of all tradition was not likely to bruise it-
self unawares against discoveries : it floated among
flexible conjectures no more solid than those ety-
mologies which seemed strong because of likeness
in sound, until it was shown that likeness in
sound made them impossible : it was a method of
interpretation which was not tested by the neces-
sity of forming anything which had sharper col-
lisions than an elaborate notion of Gog and
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 93
Magog: it was as free from interruption as a
plan for threading the stars together. And Doro-
thea had so often had to check her weariness and
impatience over this questionable riddle-guess-
ing, as it revealed itself to her instead of the
fellowship in high knowledge which was to make
life worthier ! She could understand well enough
now why her husband had come to cling to her as
possibly the only hope left that his labours would
ever take a shape in which they could be given
to the world. At first it had seemed that he
wished to keep even her aloof from any close
knowledge of what he was doing ; but gradually
the terrible stringency of human need the pro-
spect of a too speedy death
And here Dorothea's pity turned from her own
future to her husband's past my, to his present
hard struggle with a lot which had grown out of
that past : the lonely labour, the ambition breath-
ing hardly under the pressure of self-distrust ; the
goal receding, and the heavier limbs; and now
at last the sword visibly trembling above him!
And had she not wished to marry him that she
might help him in his life's labour ? But she had
thought the work was to be something greater,
which she could serve in devoutly for its own
sake. Was it right, even to soothe his grief
would it be possible, even if she promised to
work as in a treadmill fruitlessly?
And yet, could she deny him ? Could she say,
"I refuse to content this pining hunger?" It
would be refusing to do for him dead, what she
was almost sure to do for him living. If he lived
as Lydgate had said he might, for fifteen years or
more, her life would certainly be spent in helping
him and obeying him.
Still, there was a deep difference between that
devotion to the living and that indefinite promise
of devotion to the dead. While he lived, he could
claim nothing that she would not still be free to
remonstrate against, and even to refuse. But the
thought passed through her mind more than once,
though she could not believe in it might he not
mean to demand something more from her than
she had been able to imagine, since he wanted
her pledge to carry out his wishes without telling
her exactly what they were ? No ; his heart
was bound up in his work only : that was the
end for which his failing life was to be eked out
And now, if she were to say, " No ! if you die,
I will put no finger to your work " it seemed as
if she would be crushing that bruised heart.
For four hours Dorothea lay in this conflict, till
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 95
she felt ill and bewildered, unable to resolve, pray-
ing mutely. Helpless as a child which has sobbed
and sought too long, she fell into a late morning
sleep, and when she waked Mr Casaubon was
already up. Tantripp told her that he had read
prayers, breakfasted, and was in the library.
" I never saw you look so pale, madam," said
Tantripp, a solid-figured woman who had been
with the sisters at Lausanne.
"Was I ever high-coloured, Tantripp?" said
Dorothea, smiling faintly.
"Well, not to say high-coloured, but with a
bloom like a Chiny rose. But always smelling
those leather books, what can be expected ? Do
rest a little this morning, madam. Let me say
you are ill and not able to go into that close
" Oh no, no ! let me make haste," said Dorothea.
" Mr Casaubon wants me particularly/'
When she went down she felt sure that she
should promise to fulfil his wishes ; but that
would be later in the day not yet.
As Dorothea entered the library, Mr Casaubon
turned round from the table where he had been
placing some books, and said
" I was waiting for your appearance, my dear.
I had hoped to set to work at once this morning,
but I find myself under some indisposition, pro-
bably from too much excitement yesterday. I am
going now to take a turn in the shrubbery, since
the air is milder."
" I am glad to hear that," said Dorothea. " Your
mind, I feared, was too active last night."
" I would fain have it set at rest on the point
I last spoke of, Dorothea. You can now, I hope,
give me an answer/'
"May I come out to you in the garden pre-
sently ? " said Dorothea, winning a little breath-
ing-space in that way.
" I shall be in the Yew-Tree Walk for the next
half-hour," said Mr Casaubon, and then he left
Dorothea, feeling very weary, rang and asked
Tantripp to bring her some wraps. She had been
sitting still for a few minutes, but not in any re-
newal of the former conflict : she simply felt that
she was going to say "Yes" to her own doom:
she was too weak, too full of dread at the thought
of inflicting a keen-edged blow on her husband, to
do anything but submit completely. She sat still
and let Tantripp put on her bonnet and shawl,
a passivity which was unusual with her, for she
liked to wait on herself.
" God bless you, madam ' " said Tantripp, with
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 97
an irrepressible movement of love towards the
beautiful, gentle creature for whom she felt un-
able to do anything more, now that she had
finished tying the bonnet.
This was too much for Dorothea's highly-strung
feeling, and she burst into tears, sobbing against
Tantripp's arm. But soon she checked herself,
dried her eyes, and went out at the glass door
into the shrubbery.
"I wish every book in that library was built
into a caticom for your master," said Tantripp
to Pratt, the butler, finding him in the breakfast-
room. She had been at Eome, and visited the an-
tiquities, as we know ; and she always declined to
call Mr Casaubon anything but "your master/'
when speaking to the other servants.
Pratt laughed. He liked his master very well,
but he liked Tantripp better.
When Dorothea was out on the gravel walks,
she lingered among the nearer clumps of trees,
hesitating, as she had done once before, though
from a different cause. Then she had feared lest
her effort at fellowship should be unwelcome ;
now she dreaded going to the spot where she fore-
saw that she must bind herself to a fellowship from
which she shrank. Neither law nor the world's
opinion compelled her to this only her husband's
VOL. in. G
nature and her own compassion, only the ideal,
and not the real yoke of marriage. She saw clearly
enough the whole situation, yet she was fettered :
she could not smite the stricken soul that entreated
hers. If that were weakness, Dorothea was weak.
But the half-hour was passing, and she must not
delay longer. When she entered the Yew-Tree
Walk she could not see her husband; but the
walk had bends, and she went, expecting to catch
sight of his figure wrapped in a blue cloak, which,
with a warm velvet cap, was his outer garment on
chill days for the garden. It occurred to her that
he might be resting in the summer-house, towards
which the path diverged a little. Turning the
angle, she could see him seated on the bench, close
to a stone table. His arms were resting on the
table, and his brow was bowed down on them, the
blue cloak being dragged forward and screening
his face on each side.
"He exhausted himself last night," Dorothea
said to herself, thinking at first that he was asleep,
and that the summer-house was too damp a place
to rest in. But then she remembered that of late
she had seen him take that attitude when she was
reading to him, as if he found it easier than any
other; and that he would sometimes speak, as
well as listen, with his face down in that way.
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 99
She went into the summer-house and said, " I am
come, Edward ; I am ready."
He took no notice, and she thought that he
must be fast asleep. She laid her hand on his
shoulder, and repeated, "I am ready!" Still he
was motionless ; and with a sudden confused fear,
she leaned down to him, took off his velvet cap,
and leaned her cheek close to his head, crying in
a distressed tone,
"Wake, dear, wake! Listen to me. I am
come to answer."
But Dorothea never gave her answer.
Later in the day, Lydgate was seated by
her bedside, and she was talking deliriously,
thinking aloud, and recalling what had gone
through her mind the night before. She knew
him, and called him by his name, but appeared to
think it right that she should explain everything
to him ; and again, and again, begged him to ex-
plain everything to her husband.
" Tell him I shall go to him soon : I am ready
to promise. Only, thinking about it was so dread-
ful it has made me ill. Not very ill. I shall
soon be better. Go and tell him."
But the silence in her husband's ear was never
more to be broken.
A task too strong for wizard spells
This squire had brought about ;
Tis easy dropping stones in wells,
But who shall get them out?
" I WISH to God we could hinder Dorothea from
knowing this," said Sir James Chettam, with the
little frown on his brow, and an expression of
intense disgust ahout his mouth.
He was standing on the hearth-rug in the
library at Lowick Grange, and speaking to Mr
Brooke. It was the day after Mr Casaubon had
been buried, and Dorothea was not yet able to
leave her room.
" That would be difficult, you know, Chettam,
as she is an executrix, and she likes to go into,
these things property, land, that kind of thing.
She has her notions, you know," said Mr Brooke,
sticking his eye-glasses on nervously, and explor-
ing the edges of a folded paper which he held in
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 101
his hand ; " and she would like to act depend
upon it, as an executrix Dorothea would want to
act. And she was twenty- one last December,
you know. I can hinder nothing."
Sir James looked at the carpet for a minute in
silence, and then lifting his eyes suddenly fixed
them on Mr Brooke, saying, " I will tell you what
we can do. Until Dorothea is well, all business
must be kept from her, and as soon as she is able
to be moved she must come to us. Being with
Celia and the baby will be the best thing in the
world for her, and will pass away the time. And
meanwhile you must get rid of Ladislaw: you
must send him out of the country." Here Sir
James's look of disgust returned in all its intensity.
Mr Brooke put his hands behind him, walked
to the window and straightened his back with a
little shake before he replied.
" That is easily said, Chettam, easily said, you
" My dear sir," persisted Sir James, restraining
his indignation within respectful forms, "it was
you who brought him here, and you who keep
him here I mean by the occupation you give
" Yes, but I can't dismiss him in an instant
without assigning reasons, my dear Chettam.
Ladislaw has been invaluable, most satisfactory.
I consider that I have done this part of the
country a service by bringing him by bringing
him, you know." Mr Brooke ended with a nod,
turning round to give it.
" It's a pity this part of the country didn't do
without' him, that's all I have to say about it. At
any rate, as Dorothea's brother-in-law, I feel
warranted in objecting strongly to his being kept
here by any action on the part of her friends.
You admit, I hope, that I have a right to speak
about what concerns the dignity of my wife's
Sir James was getting warm.
" Of course, my dear Chettam, of course. But
you and I have different ideas different "
" Not about this action of Casaubon's, I should
hope," interrupted Sir James. " I say that he has
most unfairly compromised Dorothea. I say that
there never was a meaner, more ungentlemanly
action than this a codicil of this sort to a will
which he made at the time of his marriage with
the knowledge and reliance of her family a posi-
tive insult to Dorothea ! "
" Well, you know, Casaubon was a little twisted
about Ladislaw. Ladislaw has told me the reason
dislike of the bent he took, you know Ladislaw
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 103
didn't think much of Casaubon's notions, Thoth
and Dagon that sort of thing : and I fancy that
Casaubon didn't like the independent position
Ladislaw had taken up. I saw the letters be-
tween them, you know. Poor Casaubon was a
little buried in books he didn't know the world."
"It's all very well for Ladislaw to put that
colour on it," said Sir James. "But I believe
Casaubon was only jealous of him on Dorothea's
account, and the world will suppose that she gave
him some reason ; and that is what makes it so
abominable coupling her name with this young
"My dear Chettam, it won't lead to anything,
you know," said Mr Brooke, seating himself and
sticking on his eye-glass again. "It's all of a
piece with Casaubon's oddity. This paper, now,
' Synoptical Tabulation ' and so on, ' for the use of
Mrs Casaubon,' it was locked up in the desk with
the will. I suppose he meant Dorothea to publish
his researches, eh ! and she'll do it, you know ; she
has gone into his studies uncommonly."
"My dear sir," said Sir James, impatiently,
" that is neither here nor there. The question is,
whether you don't see with me the propriety of
sending young Ladislaw away?"
" Well, no, not the urgency of the thing. By-
and-by, perhaps, it may come round. As to gossip,
you know, sending him away won't hinder gossip.
People say what they like to say, not what they
have chapter and verse for," said Mr Brooke, be-
coming acute about the truths that lay on the side
of his own wishes. " I might get rid of Ladislaw
up to a certain point take away the ' Pioneer '
from him, and that sort of thing ; but I couldn't
send him out of the country if he didn't choose to
go didn't choose, you know."
Mr Brooke, persisting as quietly as if he were
only discussing the nature of last year's weather,
and nodding at the end with his usual amenity,
was an exasperating form of obstinacy.
"Good God!" said Sir James, with as much
passion as he ever showed, "let us get him a
post ; let us spend money on him. If he could
go in the suite of some Colonial Governor!
Grampus might take him and I could write to
Fulke about it."
"But Ladislaw won't be shipped off like a
head of cattle, my dear fellow ; Ladislaw has his
ideas. It's my opinion that if he were to part
from me to-morrow, you'd only hear the more of
him in the country. With his talent for speak-
ing and drawing up documents, there are few men
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 105
who could come up to him as an agitator an
agitator, you know."
"Agitator!" said Sir James, with bitter emphasis,
feeling that the syllables of this word properly
repeated were a sufficient exposure of its hateful-
"But be reasonable, Chettam. Dorothea, now.
As you say, she had better go to Celia as soon as
possible. She can stay under your roof, and in
the mean time things may come round quietly.
Don't let us be firing off our guns in a hurry,
you know. Standish will keep our counsel, and
the news will be old before it's known. Twenty
things may happen to carry off Ladislaw without
my doing anything, you know."
" Then I am to conclude that you decline to do
anything ? "
" Decline, Chettam ? no I didn't say decline.
But I really don't see what I could do. Ladislaw
is a gentleman."
"I am glad to hear it!" said Sir James, his
irritation making him forget himself a little. " I
am sure Casaubon was not."
"Well, it would have been worse if he had
made the codicil to hinder her from marrying
again at all, you know."
"I don't know that," said Sir James. "It
would have been less indelicate."
" One of poor Casaubon's freaks ! That attack
upset his brain a little. It all goes for nothing.
She doesn't want to marry Ladislaw."
" But this codicil is framed so as to make every-
body believe that she did. I don't believe any-
thing of the sort about Dorothea," said Sir James
then frowningly, "but I suspect Ladislaw. I tell
you frankly, I suspect Ladislaw."
" I couldn't take any immediate action on that
ground, Chettam. In fact, if it were possible to
pack him off send him to Norfolk Island that
sort of thing it would look all the worse for
Dorothea to those who knew about it. It would
seem as if we distrusted her distrusted her, you
That Mr Brooke had hit on an undeniable
argument, did not tend to soothe Sir James. He
put out his hand to reach his hat, implying that
he did not mean to contend further, and said, still
with some heat
"Well, I can only say that I think Dorothea
was sacrificed once, because her friends were too
careless. I shall do what I can, as her brother,
to protect her now."
" You can't do better than get her to Freshitt as
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 107
soon as possible, Chettam. I approve that plan
altogether," said Mr Brooke, well pleased that he
had won the argument. It would have been
highly inconvenient to him to part with Ladislaw
at that time, when a dissolution might happen
any day, and electors were to be convinced of the
course by which the interests of the country would
be best served. Mr Brooke sincerely believed that
this end could be secured by his own return to
Parliament: he offered the forces of his mind
honestly to the nation.
" ' This Loller here wol prechen us somewhat. '
' Nay by my father's soule ! that schal he nat,'
Sayde the Schipman, ' here schal he not preche,
He schal no gospel glosen here ne teche.
We leven all in the gret God,' quod he.
He wolden so wen some diffcultee."
DOROTHEA had been safe at Freshitt Hall nearly
a week before she had asked any dangerous ques-
tions. Every morning now she sat with Celia in
the prettiest of up-stairs sitting-rooms, opening
into a small conservatory Celia all in white and
lavender like a bunch of mixed violets, watching
the remarkable acts of the baby, which were so
dubious to her inexperienced mind that all con-
versation was interrupted by appeals for their inter-
pretation made to the oracular nurse. Dorothea sat
by in her widow's dress, with an expression which
rather provoked Celia, as being much too sad ; for
not only was baby quite well, but really when a
husband had been so dull and troublesome while
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 109
he lived, and besides that had well, well ! Sir
James, of course, had told Celia everything, with a
strong representation how important it was that
Dorothea should not know it sooner than was
But Mr Brooke had been right in predicting
that Dorothea would not long remain passive
where action had been assigned to her ; she knew
the purport of her husband's will made at the time
of their marriage, and her mind, as soon as she was
clearly conscious of her position, was silently
occupied with what she ought to do as the owner
of Lowick Manor with the patronage of the living
attached to it.
One morning when her uncle paid his usual
visit, though with an unusual alacrity in his
manner which he accounted for by saying that it
was now pretty certain Parliament would be dis-
solved forthwith, Dorothea said
" Uncle, it is right now that I should consider
who is to have the living at Lowick. After Mr
Tucker had been provided for, I never heard my
husband say that he had any clergyman in his
mind as a successor to himself. I think I ought
to have the keys now and go to Lowick to examine
all my husband's papers. There may be some-
thing that would throw light on his wishes."
" No hurry, my dear," said Mr Brooke, quietly.
" By -and -by, you know, you can go, if you
like. But I cast my eyes over things in the
desks and drawers there was nothing nothing
but deep subjects, you know besides the will.
Everything can be done by-aud-by. As to the
living, I' have had an application for interest
already I should say rather good. Mr Tyke has
been strongly recommended to me I had some-
thing to do with getting him an appointment be-
fore. An apostolic man, I believe the sort of
thing that would suit you, my dear."
" I should like to have fuller knowledge about
him, uncle, and judge for myself, if Mr Casaubon
has not left any expression of his wishes. He
has perhaps made some addition to his will
there may be some instructions for me," said
Dorothea, who had all the while had this con-
jecture in her mind with relation to her hus-
" Nothing about the rectory, my dear nothing,"
said Mr Brooke, rising to go away, and putting
out his hand to his nieces ; " nor about his re-
searches, you know. Nothing in the will."
Dorothea's lip quivered.
" Come, you must not think of these things yet,
my dear. By-and-by, you know."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. Ill
" I am quite well now, uncle ; I wish to exert
"Well, well, we shall see. But I must run
away now> I have no end of work now it's a
crisis a political crisis, you know. And here is
Celia and her little man you are an aunt, you
know, now, and I am a sort of grandfather," said
Mr Brooke, with placid hurry, anxious to -get
away and tell Chettarn that it would not "be his
(Mr Brooke's) fault if Dorothea insisted on look-
ing into everything.
Dorothea sank back in her chair when her uncle
had left the room, and cast her eyes down medita-
tively on her crossed hands.
" Look, Dodo ! look at him ! Did you ever see
anything like that ? " said Celia, in her comfort-
" What, Kitty ? " said Dorothea, lifting her eyes
"What? why, his upper lip; see how he is
drawing it down, as if he meant to make a face.
Isn't it wonderful ? He may have his little
thoughts. I wish nurse were here. Do look at
A large tear which had been for some time
gathering, rolled down Dorothea's cheek as she
looked up and tried to smile.
" Don't be sad, Dodo ; kiss baby. What are
you brooding over so ? I am sure you did every-
thing, and a great deal too much. You should be
"I wonder if Sir James would drive me to
Lowick. I want to look over everything to see
if there "were any words written for me."
" You are not to go till Mr Lydgate says you
may go. And he has not said so yet (here you
are, nurse : take baby and walk up and down the
gallery). Besides, you have got a wrong notion in
your head as usual, Dodo I can see that : it vexes
"Where am I wrong, Kitty?" said Dorothea,
quite meekly. She was almost ready now to
think Celia wiser than herself, and was really
wondering with some fear what her wrong notion
was. Celia felt her advantage, and was deter-
mined to use it. None of them knew Dodo as
well as she did, or knew how to manage her.
Since Celia's baby was born, she had had a new
sense of her mental solidity and calm wisdom. It
seemed clear that where there was a baby, things
were right enough, and that error, in general, was
a mere lack of that central poising force.
" I can see what you are thinking of as well as
can be, Dodo," said Celia. " You are wanting to
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 113
find out if there is anything uncomfortable for
you to do now, only because Mr Casaubon wished
it. As if you had not been uncomfortable enough
before. And he doesn't deserve it, and you will
find that out. He has behaved very badly. James
is as angry with him as can be. And I had better
tell you, to prepare you."
" Celia," said Dorothea, entreatingly, " you dis-
tress me. Tell me at once what you mean." It
glanced through her mind that Mr Casaubon had
left the property away from her which would
not be so very distressing.
" Why, he has made a codicil to his will, to say
the property was all to go away from you if you
married I mean "
"That is of no consequence," said Dorothea,
breaking in impetuously.
" But if you married Mr Ladislaw, not anybody
else," Celia went on with persevering quietude.
" Of course that is of no consequence in one way
you never would marry Mr Ladislaw ; but that
only makes it worse of Mr Casaubon."
The blood rushed to Dorothea's face and neck
painfully. But Celia was administering what she
thought a sobering dose of fact. It was taking up
notions that had done Dodo's health so much
VOL. in. H
harm. So she went on in her neutral tone, as if
she had been remarking on baby's robes.
" James says so. He says it is abominable, and
not like a gentleman. And there never was a
better judge than James. It is as if Mr Casaubon
wanted to make people believe that you would
wish to. marry Mr Ladislaw which is ridiculous.
Only James says it was to hinder Mr Ladislaw
from wanting to marry you for your money just
as if he ever would think of making you an offer.
Mrs Cadwallader said you might as well marry
an Italian with white mice ! But I must just go
and look at baby," Celia added, without the least
change of tone, throwing a light shawl over her,
and tripping away.
Dorothea by this time had turned cold again,
and now threw herself back helplessly in her chair.
She might have compared her experience at that
moment to the vague, alarmed consciousness that
her life was taking on a new form, that she was
undergoing a metamorphosis in which memory
would not adjust itself to the stirring of new
organs. Everything was changing its aspect : her
husband's conduct, her own duteous feeling to-
wards him, every struggle between them and
yet more, her whole relation to Will Ladislaw.
cSf er wor ^ was * n a s ^ e f convulsive change ;
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 115
the only thing she could say distinctly to herself
was, that she must wait and think anew. One
change terrified her as if it had been a sin; it was
a violent shock of repulsion from her departed
husband, who had had hidden thoughts, perhaps
perverting everything she said and did. Then
again she was conscious of another change which
also made her tremulous ; it was a sudden strange
yearning of heart towards Will Ladislaw. It had
never before entered her mind that he could,
under any circumstances, be her lover: conceive
the effect of the sudden revelation that another
had thought of him in that light that perhaps
he himself had been conscious of such a pos-
sibility, and this with the hurrying, crowding
vision of unfitting conditions, and questions not
soon to be solved.
It seemed a long while she did not know how
long before she heard Celia saying, "That will
do, nurse; he will be quiet on my lap now.
You can go to lunch, and let Garratt stay in the
next room." "What I think, Dodo," Celia went
on, observing nothing more than that Dorothea
was leaning back in her chair, and likely to be
passive, "is that Mr Casaubon was spiteful. I
never did like him, and James never did. I think
the corners of his mouth were dreadfully spiteful.
And now he has behaved in this way, I am sure
religion does not require you to make yourself
uncomfortable about him. If he has been taken
away, that is a mercy, and you ought to be grate-
ful. We should not grieve, should we, baby?"
said Celia confidentially to that unconscious cen-
tre and poise of the world, who had the most re-
markable fists all complete even to the nails, and
hair enough, really, when you took his cap off,
to make you didn't know what: in short, he
was Bouddha in a Western form.
At this crisis Lydgate was announced, and
one of the first things he said was, " I fear you
are not so well as you were, Mrs Casaubon : have
you been agitated ? allow me to feel your pulse."
Dorothea's hand was of a marble coldness.
" She wants to go to Lowick, to look over pa-
pers," said Celia. " She ought not, ought she ?"
Lydgate did not speak for a few moments.
Then he said, looking at Dorothea, " I hardly
know. In my opinion Mrs Casaubon should do
what would give her the most repose of mind.
That repose will not always come from being for-
bidden to act."
" Thank you," said Dorothea, exerting herself,
" I am sure that is wise. There are so many things
which I ought to attend to. Why should I sit
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 117
here idle?" Then, with an effort to recall sub-
jects not connected with her agitation, she added,
abruptly, "You know every one in Middlemarch,
I think, Mr Lydgate. I shall ask you to tell me
a great deal. I have serious things to do now.
I have a living to give away. You know Mr
Tyke and all the " But Dorothea's effort
was too much for her; she broke off and burst
Lydgate made her drink a dose of sal volatile.
" Let Mrs Casaubon do as she likes," he said
to Sir James, whom he asked to see before quit-
ting the house. " She wants perfect freedom, I
think, more than any other prescription."
His attendance on Dorothea while her brain
was excited, had enabled him to form some
true conclusions concerning the trials of her life.
He felt sure that she had been suffering from the
strain and conflict of self-repression ; and that
she was likely now to feel herself only in another
sort of pinfold than that from which she had been
Lydgate's advice was all the easier for Sir
James to follow when he found that Celia had
already told Dorothea the unpleasant fact about
the will. There was no help for it now no
reason for any further delay in the execution of
necessary business. And the next day Sir James
complied at once with her request that he would
drive her to Lowick.
" I have no wish to stay there at present," said
Dorothea ; " I could hardly bear it. I am much
happier at Freshitt with Celia. I shall be able to
think better about what should be done at Lowick
by looking at it from a distance. And I should
like to be at the Grange a little while with my
uncle, and go about in all the old walks and
among the people in the village."
" Not yet, I think. Your uncle is having poli-
tical company, and you are better out of the way
of such doings," said Sir James, who at that mo-
ment thought of the Grange chiefly as a haunt of
young Ladislaw's. But no word passed between
him and Dorothea about the objectionable part of
the will ; indeed, both of them felt that the men-
tion of it between them would be impossible.
Sir James was shy, even with men, about disa-
greeable subjects ; and the one thing that Doro-
thea would have chosen to say, if she had spoken
on the matter at all, was forbidden to her at pre-
sent because it seemed to be a farther exposure of
her husband's injustice. Yet she did wish that
Sir James could know what had passed between
her and her husband about Will Ladislaw's
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 119
moral claim on the property : it would then, she
thought, be apparent to him as it was to her, that
her husband's strange indelicate proviso had
been chiefly urged by his bitter resistance to that
idea of claim, and not merely by personal feelings
more difficult to talk about. Also, it must be ad-
mitted, Dorothea wished that this could be known
for Will's sake, since her friends seemed to think
of him as simply an object of Mr Casaubon's
charity. Why should he be compared with an
Italian carrying white mice ? That word quoted
from Mrs Cadwallader seemed like a mocking trav-
esty wrought in the dark by an impish finger.
At Lowick Dorothea searched desk and drawer
searched all her husband's places of deposit for
private writing, but found no paper addressed
especially to her, except that " Synoptical Tabula-
tion " which was probably only the beginning of
many intended directions for her guidance. In
carrying out this bequest of labour to Dorothea,
as in all else, Mr Casaubon had been slow and
hesitating, oppressed in the plan of transmitting
his work, as he had been in executing it, by the
sense of moving heavily in a dim and clogging
medium : distrust of Dorothea's competence to
arrange what he had prepared was subdued only by
distrust of any other redactor. But he had come
at last to create a trust for himself out of Doro-
thea's nature : she could do what she resolved to
do : and he willingly imagined her toiling under
the fetters of a promise to erect a tomb with his
name upon it. (Not that Mr Casaubon called the
future volumes a tomb ; he called them the Key
to all Mythologies.) But the months gained on
him and left his plans belated : he had only had
time to ask for that promise by which he sought
to keep his cold grasp on Dorothea's life.
The grasp had slipped away. Bound by a
pledge given from the depths of her pity, she
would have been capable of undertaking a toil
which her judgment whispered was vain for all
uses except that consecration of faithfulness
which is a supreme use. But now her judgment,
instead of being controlled by duteous devotion,
was made active by the imbittering discovery
that in her past union there had lurked the hidden
alienation of secrecy and suspicion. The living,
suffering man was no longer before her to awaken
her pity : there remained only the retrospect of
painful subjection to a husband whose thoughts
had been lower than she had believed, whose ex-
orbitant claims for himself had even blinded his
scrupulous care for his own character, and made
him defeat his own pride by shocking men of
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 121
ordinary honour. As for the property which was
the sign of that broken tie, she would have been
glad to be free from it and have nothing more
than her original fortune which had been settled
on her, if there had not been duties attached to
ownership, which she ought not to flinch from.
About this property many troublous questions in-
sisted on rising : had she not been right in think-
ing that the half of it ought to go to Will Ladis-
law ? but was it not impossible now for her to
do that act of justice ? Mr Casaubon had taken
a cruelly effective means of hindering her : even
with indignation against him in her heart, any
act that seemed a triumphant eluding of his
purpose revolted her.
After collecting papers of business which she
wished to examine, she locked up again the
desks and drawers all empty of personal words
for her empty of any sign that in her husband's
lonely brooding his heart had gone out to her in
excuse or explanation ; and she went back to
Freshitt with the sense that around his last hard
demand and his last injurious assertion of his
power, the silence was unbroken.
Dorothea tried now to turn her thoughts to-
wards immediate duties, and one of these was
of a kind which others were determined to remind
her of. Lydgate's ear had caught eagerly her
mention of the living, and as soon as he could, he
reopened the subject, seeing here a possibility of
making amends for the casting-vote he had once
given with an ill-satisfied conscience.
"Instead of telling you anything about Mr
Tyke," hie said, " I should like to speak of another
man Mr Farebrother, the Vicar of St Botolph's.
His living is a poor one, and gives him a stinted
provision for himself and his family. His mother,
aunt, and sister all live with him, and depend upon
him. I believe he has never married because of
them. I never heard such good preaching as his
such plain, easy eloquence. He would have done to
preach at St Paul's Cross after old Latimer. His
talk is just as good about all subjects : original,
simple, clear. I think him a remarkable fellow :
lie ought to have done more than he has done."
" Why has he not done more ? " said Dorothea,
interested now in all who had slipped below their
" That's a hard question," said Lydgate. " I
find myself that it's uncommonly difficult to make
the right thing work : there are so many strings
pulling at once. Farebrother often hints that he
has got into the wrong profession; he wants a
wider range than that of a poor clergyman, and I
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 123
suppose he has no interest to help him on. He is
very fond of Natural History and various scientific
matters, and he is hampered in reconciling these
tastes with his position. He has no money to
spare hardly enough to use; and that has led
him into card-playing Middlemarch is a great
place for whist. He does play for money, and he
wins a good deal. Of course that takes him into
company a little beneath him, and makes him
slack about some things ; and yet, with all that,
looking at him as a whole, I think he is one of the
most blameless men I ever knew. He has neither
venom nor doubleness in him, and those often go
with a more correct outside."
" I wonder whether he suffers in his conscience
because of that habit/' said Dorothea ; " I wonder
whether he wishes he could leave it off."
" I have no doubt he would leave it off, if he
were transplanted into plenty : he would be glad
of the time for other things."
" My uncle says that Mr Tyke is spoken of as an
apostolic man," said Dorothea, meditatively. She
was wishing it were possible to restore the times
of primitive zeal, and yet thinking of Mr Fare-
brother with a strong desire to rescue him from
his chance-gotten money.
"I don't pretend to say that Farebrother is
apostolic," said Lydgate. " His position is not quite
like that of the Apostles: he is only a parson
among parishioners whose lives he has to try and
make better. Practically I find that what is called
being apostolic now, is an impatience of every-
thing in which the parson doesn't cut the princi-
pal figure. I see something of that in Mr Tyke
at the Hospital : a good deal of his doctrine is a
sort of pinching hard to make people uncomfort-
ably aware of him. Besides, an apostolic man at
Lowick! he ought to think, as St Francis did,
that it is needful to preach to the birds."
" True," said Dorothea. " It is hard to imagine
what sort of notions our farmers and labourers get
from their teaching. I have been looking into a
volume of sermons by Mr Tyke : such sermons
would be of no use at Lowick I mean, about im-
puted righteousness and the prophecies in the
Apocalypse. I have always been thinking of the
different ways in which Christianity is taught, and
whenever I find one way that makes it a wider
blessing than any other, I cling to that as the
truest 1 mean that which takes in the most good
of all kinds, and brings in the most people as
sharers in it. It is surely better to pardon too
much, than to condemn too much. But I should
like to see Mr Farebrother and hear him preach."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 125
"Do," said Lydgate ; "I trust to the effect of
that. He is very much beloved, but he has his
enemies too : there are always people who can't
forgive an able man for differing from them. And
that money -winning business is really a blot.
You don't, of course, see many Middlemarch
people : but Mr Ladislaw, who is constantly seeing
Mr Brooke, is a great friend of Mr Farebrother's
old ladies, and would be glad to sing the Vicar's
praises. One of the old ladies Miss Noble, the
aunt is a wonderfully quaint picture of self-for-
getful goodness, and Ladislaw gallants her about
sometimes. I met them one day in a back street :
you know Ladislaw's look a sort of Daphnis in
coat and waistcoat ; and this little old maid reach-
ing up to his arm they looked like a couple
dropped out of a romantic comedy. But the best
evidence about Farebrother is to see him and hear
Happily Dorothea was in her private sitting-
room when this conversation occurred, and there
was no one present to make Lydgate's innocent
introduction of Ladislaw painful to her. As was
usual with him in matters of personal gossip,
Lydgate had quite forgotten Eosamond's remark
that she thought Will adored Mrs Casaubon. At
that moment he was only caring for what would
recommend the Farebrother family; and he had
purposely given emphasis to the worst that could
be said about the Vicar, in order to forestall objec-
tions. In the weeks since Mr Casaubon's death
he had hardly seen Ladislaw, and he had heard no
rumour to warn him that Mr Brooke's confidential
secretary was a dangerous subject with Mrs Casau-
bon. When he was gone, his picture of Ladislaw
lingered in her mind and disputed the ground
with that question of the Lowick living. What
was Will Ladislaw thinking about her ? Would
he hear of that fact which made her cheeks burn
as they never used to do ? And how would he
feel when he heard it ? But she could see as well
as possible how he smiled down at the little old
maid. An Italian with white mice ! on the con-
trary, he was a creature who entered into every
one's feelings, and could take the pressure of their
thought instead of urging his own with iron resist-
Party is Nature too, and you shall see
By force of Logic how they both agree :
The Many in the One, the One in Many ;
All is not Some, nor Some the same as any :
Genus holds species, both are great or small ;
One genus highest, one not high at all ;
Each species has its differentia too,
This is not That, and He was never You,
Though this and that are AYES, and you and he
Are like as one to one, or three to three.
No gossip about Mr Casaubon's will had yet
reached Ladislaw: the, air seemed to be filled
with the dissolution of Parliament and the coming
election, as the old wakes and fairs were filled with
the rival clatter of itinerant shows; and more
private noises were taken little notice of. The
famous " dry election " was at hand, in which the
depths of public feeling might be measured by the
low flood-mark of drink. Will Ladislaw was one
of the busiest at this time ; and though Dorothea's
widowhood was continually in his thought, he was
so far from wishing to be spoken to on the subject,
that when Lydgate sought him out to tell him
what had passed about the Lowick living, he
answered rather waspishly
" Why should you bring me into the matter ?
I never see Mrs Casaubon, and am not likely to
see her, since she is at Freshitt. I never go there.
It is Tory ground, where I and the ' Pioneer ' are no
more welcome than a poacher and his gun."
The fact was that Will had been made the more
susceptible by observing that Mr Brooke, instead
of wishing him, as before, to come to the Grange
oftener than was quite agreeable to himself, seemed
now to contrive that he should go there as little
as possible. This was a shuffling concession of Mr
Brooke's to Sir James Chettam's indignant remon-
strance ; and Will, awake to the slightest hint in
this direction, concluded that he was to be kept
away from the Grange on Dorothea's account. Her
friends, then, regarded him with some suspicion ?
Their fears were quite superfluous : they were very
much mistaken if they imagined that he would put
himself forward as a needy adventurer trying to
win the favour of a rich woman.
Until now Will had never fully seen the chasm
between himself and Dorothea until now that he
was come to the brink of it, and saw her on the
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 129
other side. He began, not without some inward
rage, to think of going away from the neighbour-
hood : it would be impossible for him to show any
further interest in Dorothea without subjecting
himself to disagreeable imputations perhaps even
in her mind, which others might try to poison.
" We are for ever divided," said Will. " I might
as well be at Eome; she would be no farther
from me." But what we call our despair is often
only the painful eagerness of unfed hope. There
were plenty of reasons why he should not go
public reasons why he should not quit his post at
this crisis, leaving Mr Brooke in the lurch when
he needed " coaching " for the election, and when
there was so much canvassing, direct and indirect,
to be carried on. Will could not like to leave his
own chessmen in the heat of a game ; and any
candidate on the right side, even if his brain and
marrow had been as soft as was consistent with a
gentlemanly bearing, might help to turn a majority.
To coach Mr Brooke and keep him steadily to the
idea that he must pledge himself to vote for the
actual Eeform Bill, instead of insisting on his in-
dependence and power of pulling up in time, was
not an easy task. Mr Farebrother's prophecy of a
fourth candidate " in the bag " had not yet been ful-
filled, neither the Parliamentary Candidate Society
VOL. in. I
nor any other power on the watch to secure a re-
forming majority seeing a worthy nodus for inter-
ference while there was a second reforming candi-
date like Mr Brooke, who might be returned at his
own expense ; and the fight lay entirely between
Pinkerton the old Tory member, Bagster the new
Whig member returned at the last election, and
Brooke the future independent member, who was
to fetter himself for this occasion only. Mr Hawley
and his party would bend all their forces to the
return of Pinkerton, and Mr Brooke's success must
depend either on plumpers which would leave
Bagster in the rear, or on the new minting of Tory
votes into reforming votes. The latter means, of
course, would be preferable.
This prospect of converting votes was a danger-
ous distraction to Mr Brooke : his impression that
waverers were likely to be allured by wavering
statements, and also the liability of his mind to
stick afresh at opposing arguments as they turned
up in his memory, gave Will Ladislaw much
" You know there are tactics in these things,"
said Mr Brooke; "meeting people half-way-
tempering your ideas saying, ' Well now, there's
something in that/ and so on. I agree with you
that this is a peculiar occasion the country with
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 131
a will of its own political unions that sort of
thing but we sometimes cut with rather too
sharp a knife, Ladislaw. These ten-pound house-
holders, now : why ten ? Draw the line somewhere
yes: but why just at ten? That's a difficult
question, now, if you go into it."
" Of course it is," said Will, impatiently. " But
if you are to wait till we get a logical Bill, you
must put yourself forward as a revolutionist, and
then Middlemarch would not elect you, I fancy.
As for trimming, this is not a time for trimming."
Mr Brooke always ended by agreeing with
Ladislaw, who still appeared to him a sort of
Burke with a leaven of Shelley ; but after an in-
terval the wisdom of his own methods reasserted
itself, and he was again drawn into using them
with much hopefulness. At this stage of affairs he
was in excellent spirits, which even supported him
under large advances of money; for his powers
of convincing and persuading had not yet been
tested by anything more difficult than a chairman's
speech introducing other orators, or a dialogue
with a Middlemarch voter, from which he came
away with a sense that he was a tactician by
nature, and that it was a pity he had not gone
earlier into this kind of thing. He was a little
conscious of defeat, however, with Mr Mawmsey, a
chief representative in Middlemarch of that great
social power, the retail trader, and naturally one
of the most doubtful voters in the town willing
for his own part to supply an equal quality of teas
and sugars to reformer and anti-reformer, as well
as to agree impartially with both, and feeling like
the burgesses of old that this necessity of electing
members was a great burthen to a town ; for even
if there were no danger in holding out hopes to all
parties beforehand, there would be the painful ne-
cessity at last of disappointing respectable people
whose names were on his books. He was ac-
customed to receive large orders from Mr Brooke
of Tipton ; but then, there were many of Pinker-
ton's committee whose opinions had a great weight
of grocery on their side. Mr Mawmsey thinking
that Mr Brooke, as not too " clever in his intellects,"
was the more likely to forgive a grocer who gave a
hostile vote under pressure, had become confidential
in his back parlour.
" As to Eeform, sir, put it in a family light," he
said, rattling the small silver in his pocket, and
smiling affably. " Will it support Mrs Mawmsey,
and enable her to bring up six children when I am
no more ? I put the question fictiously, knowing
what must be the answer. Very well, sir. I ask
you what, as a husband and a father, I am to do
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 133
when gentlemen come to me and say, ' Do as you
like, Mawmsey ; but if you vote against us, I shall
get my groceries elsewhere : when I sugar my liquor
I like to feel that I am benefiting the country by
maintaining tradesmen of the right colour/ Those
very words have been spoken to me, sir, in the
very chair where you are now sitting. I don't
mean by your honourable self, Mr Brooke."
" No, no, no that's narrow, you know. Until
my butler complains to me of your goods, Mr
Mawmsey," said Mr Brooke, soothingly, " until I
hear that you send bad sugars, spices that sort of
thing I shall never order him to go elsewhere."
"Sir, I am your humble servant, and greatly
obliged," said Mr Mawmsey, feeling that politics
were clearing up a little. " There would be some
pleasure in voting for a gentleman who speaks in
that honourable manner."
" Well, you know, Mr Mawmsey, you would find
it the right thing to put yourself on our side. This
Eeform will touch everybody by-and-by a thor-
oughly popular measure a sort of A, B, C, you
know, that must come first before the rest can
follow. I quite agree with you that you've got to
look at the thing in a family light: but public
spirit, now. We're all one family, you know it's
all one cupboard. Such a thing as a vote, now :
why, it may help to make men's fortunes at the
Cape there's no knowing what may be the effect
of a vote," Mr Brooke ended, with a sense of being
a little out at sea, though finding it still enjoyable.
But Mr Mawmsey answered in a tone of decisive
" 1 beg your pardon, sir, but I can't afford that.
When I give a vote I must know what I'm doing ; I
must look to what will be the effects on my till and
ledger, speaking respectfully. Prices, I'll admit,
are what nobody can know the merits of ; and the
sudden falls after you've bought in currants, which
are a goods that will not keep I've never myself
seen into the ins and outs there ; which is a rebuke
to human pride. But as to one family, there's
debtor and creditor, I hope ; they're not going to
reform that away ; else I should vote for things
staying as they are. Tew men have less need to cry
for change than I have, personally speaking that
is, for self and family. I am not one of those who
have nothing to lose : I mean as to respectability
both in parish and private business, and noways
in respect of your honourable self and custom,
which you was good enough to say you would not
withdraw from me, vote or no vote, while the
article sent in was satisfactory."
After this conversation Mr Mawmsey went up
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 135
and boasted to his wife that he had been rather too
many for Brooke of Tipton, and that he didn't
mind. so much now about going to the poll.
Mr Brooke on this occasion abstained from
boasting of his tactics to Ladislaw, who for his part
was glad enough to persuade himself that he had
no concern with any canvassing except the purely
argumentative sort, and that he worked no meaner
engine than knowledge. Mr Brooke, necessarily,
had his agents, who understood the nature of the
Middlemarch voter and the means of enlisting
his ignorance on the side of the Bill which were
remarkably similar to the means of enlisting it
on the side against the Bill. Will stopped his
ears. Occasionally Parliament, like the rest of
our lives, even to our eating and apparel, could
hardly go on if our imaginations were too active
about processes. There were plenty of dirty-
handed men in the world to do dirty business ;
and Will protested to himself that his share
in bringing Mr Brooke through would be quite
But whether he should succeed in that mode of
contributing to the majority on the right side was
very doubtful to him. He had written out various
speeches and memoranda for speeches, but he had
begun to perceive that Mr Brooke's mind, if it had
the burthen of remembering any train of thought,
would let it drop, run away in search of it, and not
easily come back again. To collect documents is
one mode of serving your country, and to remember
the contents of a document is another. No ! the
only way in which Mr Brooke could be coerced
into thinking of the right arguments at the right
time was to be well plied with them till they took
up all the room in his brain. But here there was
the difficulty of finding room, so many things
having been taken in beforehand. Mr Brooke
himself observed that his ideas stood rather in his
way when he was speaking.
However, Ladislaw's coaching was forthwith to
be put to the test, for before the day of nomina-
tion Mr Brooke was to explain himself to the
worthy electors of Middlemarch from the balcony
of the White Hart, which looked out advantageous-
ly at an angle of the market-place, commanding a
large area in front and two converging streets. It
was a fine May morning, and everything seemed
hopeful : there was some prospect of an under-
standing between Bagster's committee and Brooke's,
to which Mr Bulstrode, Mr Standish as a Liberal
lawyer, and such manufacturers as Mr Plymdale
and Mr Vincy, gave a solidity which almost counter-
balanced Mr Hawley and his associates who sat
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 137
for Pinkerton at the Green Dragon. Mr Brooke,
conscious of having weakened the blasts of the
' Trumpet ' against him, by his reforms as a land-
lord in the last half-year, and hearing himself
cheered a little as he drove into the town, felt his
heart tolerably light under his buff-coloured waist-
coat. But with regard to critical occasions, it
often happens that all moments seem comfortably
remote until the last.
"This looks well, eh?" said Mr Brooke as the
crowd gathered. " I shall have a good audience,
at any rate. I like this, now this kind of public
made up of one's own neighbours, you know ! "
The weavers and tanners of Middlemarch, un-
like Mr Mawmsey, had never thought of Mr
Brooke as a neighbour, and were not more attached
to him than if he had been sent in a box from
London. But they listened without much disturb-
ance to the speakers who introduced the candidate,
though one of them a political personage from
Brassing, who came to tell Middlemarch its duty
spoke so fully, that it was alarming to think
what the candidate could find to say after him.
Meanwhile the crowd became denser, and as the
political personage neared the end of his speech,
Mr Brooke felt a remarkable change in his sensa-
tions while he still handled his eye-glass, trifled
with documents before him, and exchanged re-
marks with his committee, as a man to whom
the moment of summons was indifferent.
" I'll take another glass of sherry, Ladislaw," he
said, with an easy air, to Will, who was close be-
hind him, and presently handed him the supposed
fortifier. It was ill-chosen ; for Mr Brooke was
an abstemious man, and to drink a second glass
of sherry quickly at no great interval from the
first was a surprise to his system which tended
to scatter his energies instead of collecting them.
Pray pity him : so many English gentlemen make
themselves miserable by speechifying on entirely
private grounds ! whereas Mr Brooke wished to
serve his country by standing for Parliament
which, indeed, may also be done on private grounds,
but being once undertaken does absolutely de-
mand some speechifying.
It was not about the beginning of his speech
that Mr Brooke was at all anxious : this, he felt
sure, would be all right ; he should have it quite pat,
cut out as neatly as a set of couplets from Pope.
Embarking would be easy, but the vision of open
sea that might come after was alarming. " And
questions, now," hinted the demon just waking
up in his stomach, " somebody may put questions
about the schedules. Ladislaw," he continued,
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 139
aloud, "just hand me the memorandum of the
When Mr Brooke presented himself on the
balcony, the cheers were quite loud enough to
counterbalance the yells, groans, brayings, and
other expressions of adverse theory, which were
so moderate that Mr Standish (decidedly an
old bird) observed in the ear next to him, " This
looks dangerous, by God ! Hawley has got some
deeper plan than this." Still, the cheers were
exhilarating, and no candidate could look more
amiable than Mr Brooke, with the memorandum
in his breast-pocket, his left hand on the rail of
the balcony, and his right trifling with his eye-
glass. The striking points in his appearance were
his buff waistcoat, short- clipped blond hair, and
neutral physiognomy. He began with some con-
" Gentlemen Electors of Middlemarch ! "
This was so much the right thing that a little
pause after it seemed natural.
" I'm uncommonly glad to be here I was never
so proud and happy in my life never so happy,
This was a bold figure of speech, but not exactly
the right thing ; for, unhappily, the pat opening
had slipped away even couplets from Pope may
be but " fallings from us, vanishings," when fe
clutches us, and a glass of sherry is hurrying like
smoke among our ideas. Ladislaw, who stood at
the window behind the speaker, thought, " It's all
up now. The only chance is that, since the best
thing won't always do, floundering may answer
for once." Mr Brooke, meanwhile, having lost
other clues, fell back on himself and his qualifi-
cations always an appropriate graceful subject
for a candidate.
" I am a close neighbour of yours, my good
friends you've known me on the bench a good
while I've always gone a good deal into public
questions machinery, now, and machine-break-
ing you're many of you concerned with ma-
chinery, and I've been going into that lately. It
won't do, you know, breaking machines : every-
thing must go on trade, manufactures, commerce,
interchange of staples that kind of thing since
Adam Smith, that must go on. We must look all
over the globe : ' Observation with extensive
view,' must look everywhere, ' from China to
Peru/ as somebody says Johnson, I think, ' The
Rambler,' you know. That is what I have done up
to a certain point not as far as Peru ; but I've
not always stayed at home I saw it wouldn't do.
I've been in the Levant, where some of your Mid-
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 141
diem arch goods go and then, again, in the Baltic.
The Baltic, now."
Plying among his recollections in this way, Mr
Brooke might have got along easily to himself,
and would have come back from the remotest seas
without trouble ; but a diabolical procedure had
been set up by the enemy. At one and the same
moment there had risen above the shoulders of
the crowd, nearly opposite Mr Brooke, and within
ten yards of him, the effigy of himself; buff-
coloured waistcoat, eye-glass, and neutral physiog-
nomy, painted on rag ; and there had arisen,
apparently in the air, like the note of the cuckoo,
a parrot -like, Punch -voiced echo of his words.
Everybody looked up at the open windows in the
houses at the opposite angles of the converging
streets ; but they were either blank, or filled by
laughing listeners. The most innocent echo has
an impish mockery in it when it follows a gravely
persistent speaker, and this echo was not at all
innocent ; if it did not follow with the precision
of a natural echo, it had a wicked choice of the
words it overtook. By the time it said, "The
Baltic, now," the laugh which had been running
through the audience became a general shout, and
but for the sobering effects of party and that
great public cause which the entanglement of
things had identified with " Brooke of Tipton,"
the laugh might have caught his committee. Mr
Bulstrode asked, reprehensively, what the new
police was doing ; but a voice could not well be
collared, and an attack on the effigy of the candi-
date would have been too equivocal, since Hawley
probably meant it to be pelted.
Mr Brooke himself was not in a position to be
quickly conscious of anything except a general
slipping away of ideas within himself: he had
even a little singing in the ears, and he was the
only person who had not yet taken distinct
account of the echo or discerned the image of
himself. Few things hold the perceptions more
thoroughly captive than anxiety about what we
have got to say. Mr Brooke heard the laughter ;
but he had expected some Tory efforts at disturb-
ance, and he was at this moment additionally
excited by the tickling, stinging sense that his lost
exordium was coming back to fetch him from the
"That reminds me," he went on, thrusting a
hand into his side-pocket with an easy air, " if I
wanted a precedent, you know but we never
want a precedent for the right thing but there is
Chatham, now : I can't say I should have sup-
ported Chatham, or Pitt, the younger Pitt he was
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 143
not a man of ideas, and we want ideas, you
" Blast your ideas ! we want the Bill," said a
loud rough voice from the crowd below.
Immediately the invisible Punch, who had
hitherto followed Mr Brooke, repeated, "Blast
your ideas ! we want the Bill." The laugh was
louder than ever, and for the first time Mr Brooke
being himself silent, heard distinctly the mocking
echo. But it seemed to ridicule his interrupter,
and in that light was encouraging ; so he replied
" There is something in what you say, my good
friend, and what do we meet for but to speak
our minds freedom of opinion, freedom of the
press, liberty that kind of thing 1 The Bill, now
you shall have the Bill" here Mr Brooke paused
a moment to fix on his eye-glass and take the
paper from his breast-pocket, with a sense of being
practical and coming to particulars. The invisible
Punch followed :
" You shall have the Bill, Mr Brooke, per elec-
tioneering contest, and a seat outside Parliament
as delivered, five thousand pounds, seven shillings,
Mr Brooke, amid the roars of laughter, turned
red, let his eye-glass fall, and looking about him
1 44 MIDDLEMAECH.
confusedly, saw the image of himself, which had
come nearer. The next moment he saw it dolor-
ously bespattered with eggs. His spirit rose a
little, and his voice too.
" Buffoonery, tricks, ridicule the test of truth
all that is very well " here an unpleasant egg
broke on Mr Brooke's shoulder, as the echo said,
" All that is very well ;" then came a hail of eggs,
chiefly aimed at the image, but occasionally hit-
ting the original, as if by chance. There was a
stream of new men pushing among the crowd ;
whistles, yells, bellowings, and fifes made all the
greater hubbub because there was shouting and
struggling to put them down. No voice would
have had wing enough to rise above the uproar,
and Mr Brooke, disagreeably anointed, stood his
ground no longer. The frustration would have
been less exasperating if it had been less game-
some and boyish : a serious assault of which the
newspaper reporter " can aver that it endangered
the learned gentleman's ribs," or can respectfully
bear witness to " the soles of that gentleman's
boots having been visible above the railing," has
perhaps more consolations attached to it.
Mr Brooke re-entered the committee-room, say-
ing, as carelessly as he could, " This is a little too
bad, you know. I should have got the ear of the
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 145
people by-and-by but they didn't give me time.
I should have gone into the Bill by-and-by, you
know," he added, glancing at Ladislaw. " How-
ever, things will come all right at the nomination."
But it was not resolved unanimously that things
would come right ; on the contrary, the committee
looked rather grim, and the political personage
from Brassing was writing busily, as if he were
brewing new devices.
" It was Bowyer who did it," said Mr Standish,
evasively. " I know it as well as if he had been
advertised. He's uncommonly good at ventrilo-
quism, and he did it uncommonly well, by God !
Hawley has been having him to dinner lately :
there's a fund of talent in Bowyer."
" Well, you know, you never mentioned him to
me, Standish, else I would have invited him to
dine," said poor Mr Brooke, who had gone through
a great deal of inviting for the good of his country.
"There's not a more paltry fellow in Middle-
march than Bowyer," said Ladislaw, indignantly,
" but it seems as if the paltry fellows were always
to turn the scale."
Will was thoroughly out of temper with himself
as well as with his " principal," and he went to
shut himself in his rooms with a half-formed re-
solve to throw up the 'Pioneer' and Mr Brooke
VOL. III. K
together. Why should he stay ? If the impass-
able gulf between himself and Dorothea were ever
to be filled up, it must rather be by his going away
and getting into a thoroughly different position
than by his staying here and slipping into de-
served contempt as an understrapper of Brooke's.
Then came the young dream of wonders that he
might do in five years, for example : political
writing, political speaking, would get a higher
value now public life was going to be wider and
more national, and they might give him such dis-
tinction that he would not seem to be asking
Dorothea to step down to him. Five years : if
he could only be sure that she cared for him more
than for others ; if he could only make her aware
that he stood aloof until he could tell his love
without lowering himself then he could go away
easily, and begin a career which at five-and-twenty
seemed probable enough in the inward order of
things, where talent brings fame, and fame every-
thing else which is delightful. He could speak
and he could write ; he could master any subject
if he chose, and he meant always to take the side
of reason and justice, on which he would carry all
his ardour. Why should he not one day be lifted
above the shoulders of the crowd, and feel that he
had won that eminence well ? Without doubt he
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 147
would leave Middlemarch, go to town, and make
himself fit for celebrity by " eating his dinners."
But not immediately : not until some kind of
sign had passed between him and Dorothea. He
could not be satisfied until she knew why, even if
he were the man she would choose to marry, he
would not marry her. Hence he must keep his
post and bear with Mr Brooke a little longer.
But he soon had reason to suspect that Mr
Brooke had anticipated him in the wish to break
up their connection. Deputations without and
voices within had concurred in inducing that
philanthropist to take a stronger measure than
usual for the good of mankind ; namely, to with-
draw in favour of another candidate, to whom he
left the advantages of his canvassing machinery.
He himself called this a strong measure, but ob-
served that his health was less capable of sustain-
ing excitement than he had imagined.
" I have felt uneasy about the chest it won't
do to carry that too far," he said to Ladislaw in
explaining the affair. " I must pull up. Poor
Casaubon was a warning, you know. I've made
some heavy advances, but I've dug a channel.
It's rather coarse work this electioneering, eh,
Ladislaw ? I daresay you are tired of it. How-
ever, we have dug a channel with the ' Pioneer '
put things in a track, and so on. A more ordinary
man than you might carry it on now more ordi-
nary, you know."
" Do you wish me to give it up ? " said Will,
the quick colour coming in his face, as he rose
from the writing-table, and took a turn of three
steps with his hands in his pockets. " I am ready
to do so whenever you wish it."
"As to wishing, my dear Ladislaw, I have the
highest opinion of your powers, you know. But
about the ' Pioneer/ I have been consulting a little
with some of the men on our side, and they are
inclined to take it into their hands indemnify
me to a certain extent carry it on, in fact. And
under the circumstances, you might like to give
up might find a better field. These people might
not take that high view of you which I have
always taken, as an alter ego, a right hand
though I always looked forward to your doing
something else. I think of having a run into
France. But I'll write you any letters, you know
to Althorpe and people of that kind. I've met
" I am exceedingly obliged to you," said Lad-
islaw, proudly. " Since you are going to part
with the ' Pioneer, ' I need not trouble you about
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 149
the steps I shall take. I may choose to continue
here for the present."
After Mr Brooke had left him Will said to him-
self, "The rest of the family have been urging
him to get rid of me, and he doesn't care now
about my going. I shall stay as long as I like.
I shall go of my own movement, and not because
they are afraid of me."
" His heart
The lowliest duties on itself did lay."
ON that June evening when Mr Farebrother knew
that he was to have the Lowick living, there was
joy in the old-fashioned parlour, and even the
portraits of the great lawyers seemed to look on
with satisfaction. His mother left her tea and
toast untouched, but sat with her usual pretty
primness, only showing her emotion by that flush
in the cheeks and brightness in the eyes which give
an old woman a touching momentary identity with
her far-off youthful self, and saying decisively
"The greatest comfort, Camden, is that you
have deserved it."
" When a man gets a good berth, mother, half
the deserving must come after," said the son,
brimful of pleasure, and not trying to conceal it.
The gladness in his face was of that active kind
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 151
which seems to have energy enough not only to
flash outwardly, but to light up busy vision
within: one seemed to see thoughts as well as
delight in his glances.
"Now, aunt/' he went on, rubbing his hands
and looking at Miss Noble, who was making
tender little beaver-like noises, "there shall be
sugar-candy always on the table for you to steal
and give to the children, and you shall have a
great many new stockings to make presents of,
and you shall darn your own more than ever ! "
Miss Noble nodded at her nephew with a sub-
dued half-frightened laugh, conscious of having
already dropped an additional lump of sugar into
her basket on the strength of the new preferment.
"As for you, Winny " the Vicar went on " I
shall make no difficulty about your marrying any
Lowick bachelor Mr Solomon Featherstone, for
example, as soon as I find you are in love with
Miss Winifred, who had been looking at her
brother all the while and crying heartily, which
was her way of rejoicing, smiled through her tears
and said, " You must set me the example, Cam :
you must marry now."
" With all my heart. But who is in love with
me? I am a seedy old fellow," said the Yicar,
rising, pushing his chair away and looking down
at himself. " What do you say, mother ? "
"You are a handsome man, Camden: though
not so fine a figure of a man as your father," said
the old lady.
" I wish you would marry Miss Garth, brother,"
said Miss Winifred. " She would make us so lively
" Very fine ! You talk as if young women were
tied up to be chosen, like poultry at market ; as if
I had only to ask and everybody would have me,"
said the Vicar, not caring to specify.
" We don't want everybody," said Miss Wini-
fred. " But you would like Miss Garth, mother,
shouldn't you ? "
"My son's choice shall be mine," said Mrs
Farebrother, with majestic discretion, " and a
wife would be most welcome, Camden. You will
want your whist at home when we go to Lowick,
and Henrietta Noble never was a whist-player."
(Mrs Farebrother always called her tiny old sister
by that magnificent name.)
" I shall do without whist now, mother."
"Why so, Camden? In my time whist was
thought an undeniable amusement for a good
churchman," said Mrs Farebrother, innocent of
the meaning that whist had for her son, and
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 153
speaking rather sharply, as at some dangerous
countenancing of new doctrine.
"I shall be too busy for whist; I shall have
two parishes," said the Vicar, preferring not to
discuss the virtues of that game.
He had already said to Dorothea, " I don't feel
bound to give up St Botolph's. It is protest
enough against the pluralism they want to reform
if I give somebody else most of the money. The
stronger thing is not to give up power, but to use
"I have thought of that," said Dorothea. " So
far as self is concerned, I think it would be easier
to give up power and money than to keep them.
It seems very unfitting that I should have this
patronage, yet I felt that I ought not to let it
be used by some one else instead of me."
" It is I who am bound to act so that you will
not regret your power," said Mr Farebrother.
His was one of the natures in which conscience
gets the more active when the yoke of life ceases
to gall them. He made no display of humility
on the subject, but in his heart he felt rather
ashamed that his conduct had shown laches
which others who did not get benefices were free
"I used often to wish I had been something
else than a clergyman," he said to Lydgate, "but
perhaps it will be better to try and make as good
a clergyman out of myself as I can. That is the
well-beneficed point of view, you perceive, from
which difficulties are much simplified," he ended,
The Vicar did feel then as if his share of
duties would be easy. But duty has a trick of
behaving unexpectedly something like a heavy
friend whom we have amiably asked to visit us,
and who breaks his leg within our gates.
Hardly a week later, duty presented itself in
his study under the disguise of Fred Vincy,
now returned from Omnibus College with his
" I am ashamed to trouble you, Mr Farebrother,"
said Fred, whose fair open face was propitiat-
ing, "but you are the only friend I can con-
sult. I told you everything once before, and
you were so good that I can't help coming to
"Sit down, Fred, I'm ready to hear and do
anything I can," said the Vicar, who was busy
packing some small objects for removal, and went
on with his work.
" I wanted to tell you " Fred hesitated an
instant and then went on plungingly, "I might
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 155
go into the Church now ; and really, look where
I may, I can't see anything else to do. I don't
like it, but I know it's uncommonly hard on my
father to say so, after he has spent a good deal of
money in educating me for it." Fred paused
again an instant, and then repeated, " and I can't
see anything else to do."
" I did talk to your father about it, Fred, but
I made little way with him. He said it was too
late. But you have got over one bridge now :
what are your other difficulties ? "
"Merely that I don't like it. I don't like
divinity, and preaching, and feeling obliged to
look serious. I like riding across country, and
doing as other men do. I don't mean that I want
to be a bad fellow in any way ; but I've no taste
for the sort of thing people expect of a clergyman.
And yet what else am I to do ? My father can't
spare me any capital, else I might go into farm-
ing. And he has no room for me in his trade.
And of course I can't begin to study for law or
physic now, when my father wants me to earn
something. It's all very well to say I'm wrong to
go into the Church ; but those who say so might
as well tell me to go into the backwoods."
Fred's voice had taken a tone of grumbling
remonstrance, and Mr Farebrother might have
been inclined to smile if his mind had not been
too busy in imagining more than Fred told him.
"Have you any difficulties about doctrines
about the Articles ? " he said, trying hard to think
of the question simply for Fred's sake.
" No ; I suppose the Articles are right. I am
not prepared with any arguments to disprove
them, and much better, cleverer fellows than I
am go in for them entirely. I think it would be
rather ridiculous in me to urge scruples of that
sort, as if I were a judge/' said Fred, quite
" I suppose, then, it has occurred to you that
you might be a fair parish priest without being
much of a divine ? "
" Of course, if I am obliged to be a clergyman,
I shall try and do my duty, though I mayn't like
it. Do you think anybody ought to blame me ? "
" For going into the Church under the circum-
stances ? That depends on your conscience, Fred
how far you have counted the cost, and seen
what your position will require of you. I can
only tell you about myself, that I have always
been too lax, and have been uneasy in conse-
"But there is another hindrance," said Fred,
colouring. "I did not tell you before, though
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 157
perhaps I may have said things that made you
guess it. There is somebody I am very fond of :
I have loved her ever since we were children."
" Miss Garth, I suppose ? " said the Vicar, exa-
mining some labels very closely.
" Yes. I shouldn't mind anything if she would
have me. And I know I could be a good fellow
"And you think she returns the feeling ?"
" She never will say so ; and a good while ago
she made me promise not to speak to her about
it again. And she has set her mind especially
against my being a clergyman ; I know that.
But I can't give her up. I do think she cares
about me. I saw Mrs Garth last night, and she
said that Mary was staying at Lowick Rectory
with Miss Farebrother."
" Yes, she is very kindly helping my sister. Do
you wish to go there ? "
" No, I want to ask a great favour of you. I
am ashamed to bother you in this way; but Mary
might listen to what you said, if you mentioned
the subject to her I mean about my going into
" That is rather a delicate task, my dear Fred.
I shall have to presuppose your attachment to
her ; and to enter on the subject as you wish me
to do, will be asking her to tell me whether she
"That is what I want her to tell you," said
Fred, bluntly. " I don't know what to do, unless I
can get at her feeling."
" You mean that you would be guided by that
as to your going into the Church ?"
"If Mary said she would never have me I
might as well go wrong in one way as another."
"That is nonsense, Fred. Men outlive their
love, but they don't outlive the consequences of
"Not my sort of love: I have never been
without loving Mary. If I had to give her
up, it would be like beginning to live on wooden
" Will she not be hurt at my intrusion ? "
" No, I feel sure she will not. - She respects you
more than any one, and she would not put you off
with fun as she does me. Of course I could not
have told any one else, or asked any one else to
speak to her, but you. There is no one else who
could be such a friend to both of us." Fred paused
a moment, and then said, rather complainingly,
"And she ought to acknowledge that I have
worked in order to pass. She ought to believe
that I would exert myself for her sake."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 159
There was a moment's silence before Mr Tare-
brother laid down his work, and putting out his
hand to Fred said
"Very well, my boy. I will do what you
That very day Mr Farebrother went to Lowick
parsonage on the nag which he had just set up.
"Decidedly I am an old stalk," he thought, "the
young growths are pushing me aside."
He found Mary in the garden gathering roses
and sprinkling the petals on a sheet. The sun
was low, and tall trees sent their shadows across
the grassy walks where Mary was moving without
bonnet or parasol She did not observe Mr Fare-
brother's approach along the grass, and had just
stooped down to lecture a small black-and-tan
terrier, which would persist in walking on the
sheet and smelling at the rose-leaves as Mary
sprinkled them. She took his fore-paws in one
hand, and lifted up the forefinger of the other,
while the dog wrinkled his brows and looked
embarrassed. " Fly, Fly, I am ashamed of you,"
Mary was saying in a grave contralto. " This is
not becoming in a sensible dog ; anybody would
think you were a silly young gentleman."
" You are unmerciful to young gentlemen, Miss
Garth," said the Vicar, within two yards of her.
Mary started up and blushed. "It always
answers to reason with Fly," she said, laughingly.
" But not with young gentlemen ? "
" Oh, with some, I suppose ; since some of them
turn into excellent men."
" I am glad of that admission, because I want
at this "very moment to interest you in a young
" Not a silly one, I hope," said Mary, beginning
to pluck the roses again, and feeling her heart
" No ; though perhaps wisdom is not his strong
point, but rather affection and sincerity. How-
ever, wisdom lies more in those two qualities than
people are apt to imagine. I hope you know by
those marks what young gentleman I mean."
" Yes, I think I do," said Mary, bravely, her face
getting more serious, and her hands cold ; "it must
be Fred Vincy."
" He has asked me to consult you about his go-
ing into the Church. I hope you will not think
that I consented to take a liberty in promising to
" On the contrary, Mr Farebrother," said Mary,
giving up the roses, and folding her arms, but un-
able to look up, " whenever you have anything to
say to me I feel honoured."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 161
" But before I enter on that question, let me
just touch a point on which your father took me
into confidence ; by the way, it was that very
evening on which I once before fulfilled a mission
from Fred, just after he had gone to college. Mr
Garth told me what happened on the night of
Featherstone's death how you refused to burn
the will ; and he said that you had some heart-
prickings on that subject, because you had been
the innocent means of hindering Fred from getting
his ten thousand pounds. I have kept that in
mind, and I have heard something that may re-
lieve you on that score may show you that no
sin-offering is demanded from you there."
Mr Farebrother paused a moment and looked at
Mary. He meant to give Fred his full advantage,
but it would be well, he thought, to clear her mind
of any superstitions, such as women sometimes
follow when they do a man the wrong of marrying
him as an act of atonement. Mary's cheeks had
begun to burn a little, and she was mute.
" I mean, that your action made no real differ-
ence to Fred's lot. I find that the first will would
not have been legally good after the burning of the
last : it would not have stood if it had been dis-
puted, and you may be sure it would have been
VOL. in. L
disputed. So, on that score, you may feel your
" Thank you, Mr Farebrother," said Mary, earn-
estly. "I am grateful to you for remembering
"Well, now I may go on. Fred, you know, has
taken his degree. He has worked his way so far,
and now the question is, what is he to do ? That
question is so difficult that he is inclined to follow
his father's wishes and enter the Church, though
you know better than I do that he was quite set
against that formerly. I have questioned him on
the subject, and I confess I see no insuperable
objection to his being a clergyman, as things go.
He says that he could turn his mind to doing his
best in that vocation, on one condition. If that
condition were fulfilled I would do my utmost in
helping Fred on. After a time not, of course, at
first he might be with me as my curate, and he
would have so much to do that his stipend would be
nearly what I used to get as vicar. But I repeat
that there is a condition without which all this
good cannot come to pass. He has opened his heart
to me, Miss Garth, and asked me to plead for
him. The condition lies entirely in your feeling."
Mary looked so much moved, that he said after
a moment, " Let us walk a little ; " and when they
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 163
were walking, he added, " To speak quite plainly,
Fred will not take any course which would lessen
the chance that you would consent to be his wife ;
but with that prospect, he will try his best at any-
thing you approve."
" I cannot possibly say that I will ever be his
wife, Mr Farebrother ; but I certainly never will
be his wife if he becomes a clergyman. What
you say is most generous and kind ; I don't mean
for a moment to correct your judgment. It is
only that I have my girlish, mocking way of look-
ing at things," said Mary, with a returning sparkle
of playfulness in her answer which only made
its modesty more charming.
"He wishes me to report exactly what you
think," said Mr Farebrother.
" I could not love a man who is ridiculous," said
Mary, not choosing to go deeper. "Fred has sense
and knowledge enough to make him respectable,
if he likes, in some good worldly business, but I
can never imagine him preaching and exhorting,
and pronouncing blessings, and praying by the
sick, without feeling as if I were looking at a
caricature. His being a clergyman would be only
for gentility's sake, and I think there is nothing
more contemptible than such imbecile gentility.
I used to think that of Mr Crowse, with his
empty face and neat umbrella and mincing little
speeches. What right have such men to represent
Christianity as if it were an institution for
getting up idiots genteelly as if " Mary
checked herself. She had been carried along as
if she had been speaking to Fred instead of Mr
" Young women are severe ; they don't feel the
stress of action as men do, though perhaps I ought
to make you an exception there. But you don't
put Fred Vincy on so low a level as that ? "
" No, indeed ; he has plenty of sense, but I
think he would not show it as a clergyman. He
would be a piece of professional affectation."
" Then the answer is quite decided. As a clergy-
man he could have no hope ? "
Mary shook her head.
" But if he braved all the difficulties of getting
his bread in some other way will you give him
the support of hope ? May he count on winning
" I think Fred ought not to need telling again
what I have already said to him," Mary answered,
with a slight resentment in her manner. " I mean
that he ought not to put such questions until he
has done something worthy, instead of saying that
he could do it."
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 165
Mr Farebrother was silent for a minute or more,
and then, as they turned and paused under the
shadow of a maple at the end of a grassy walk,
said, " I understand that you resist any attempt to
fetter you, but either your feeling for Fred Vincy
excludes your entertaining another attachment, or
it does not : either he may count on your remain-
ing single until he shall have earned your hand,
or he may in any case be disappointed. Pardon
me, Mary you know I used to catechise you un-
der that name but when the state of a woman's
affections touches the happiness of another life
of more lives than one I think it would be the
nobler course for her to be perfectly direct and
Mary in her turn was silent, wondering not at
Mr Farebrother's manner but at his tone, which
had a grave restrained emotion in it. When the
strange idea flashed across her that his words
had reference to himself, she was incredulous,
and ashamed of entertaining it. She had never
thought that any man could love her except
Fred, who had espoused her with the umbrella ring,
when she wore socks and little strapped shoes :
still less that she could be of any importance to
Mr Farebrother, the cleverest man in her narrow
circle. She had only time to feel that all this was
hazy and perhaps illusory ; but one thing was
clear and determined her answer.
" Since you think it my duty, Mr Farebrother, I
will tell you that I have too strong a feeling for
Fred to give him up for any one else. I should
never be quite happy if I thought he was unhappy
for the loss of me. It has taken such deep root in
me my gratitude to him for always loving me best,
and minding so much if I hurt myself, from the
time when we were very little. I cannot imagine
any new feeling coming to make that weaker. I
should like better than anything to see him worthy
of every one's respect. But please tell him I will
not promise to marry him till then: I should
shame and grieve my father and mother. He is
free to choose some one else."
" Then I have fulfilled my commission thorough-
ly," said Mr Farebrother, putting out his hand to
Mary, "and I shall ride back to Middlemarch
forthwith. With this prospect before him, we
shall get Fred into the right niche somehow, and
I hope I shall live to join your hands. God
bless you ! "
" Oh, please stay, and let me give you some tea,"
said Mary. Her eyes filled with tears, for some-
thing indefinable, something like the resolute sup-
pression of a pain in Mr Farebrother's manner,
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 167
made her feel suddenly miserable, as she had once
felt when she saw her father's hands trembling in
a moment of trouble.
" No, my dear, no. I must get back."
In three minutes the Vicar was on horseback
again, having gone magnanimously through a duty
much harder than the renunciation of whist, or
even than the writing of penitential meditations.
It is but a shallow haste which concludeth insincerity from what out-
siders call inconsistency putting a dead mechanism of " ifs" and " there-
fores" for the living myriad of hidden suckers whereby the belief and the
conduct are wrought into mutual sustainment.
MR BULSTEODE, when he was hoping to acquire
a new interest in Lowick, had naturally had an
especial wish that the new clergyman should be
one whom he thoroughly approved; and he believed
it to be a chastisement and admonition directed to
his own shortcomings and those of the nation at
large, that just about the time when he came in
possession of the deeds which made him the pro-
prietor of Stone Court, Mr Farebrother "read
himself" into the quaint little church and preached
his first sermon to the congregation of farmers,
labourers, and village artisans. It was not that
Mr Bulstrode intended to frequent Lowick
Church or to reside at Stone Court for a good while
to come : he had bought the excellent farm and
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 169
fine homestead simply as a retreat which he
might gradually enlarge as to the land and beautify
as to the dwelling, until it should be conducive to
the divine glory that he should enter on it as a
residence, partially withdrawing from his present
exertions in the administration of business, and
throwing more conspicuously on the side of Gospel
truth the weight of local landed proprietorship,
which Providence might increase by unforeseen
occasions of purchase. A strong leading in this
direction seemed to have been given in the sur-
prising facility of getting Stone Court, when every-
one had expected that Mr Rigg Featherstone
would have clung to it as the Garden of Eden.
That was what poor old Peter himself had ex-
pected ; having often, in imagination, looked up
through the sods above him, and, unobstructed by
perspective, seen his frog-faced legatee enjoying
the fine old place to the perpetual surprise and
disappointment of other survivors.
But how little we know what would make para-
dise for our neighbours ' We judge from our own
desires, and our neighbours themselves are not
always open enough even to throw out a hint of
theirs. The cool and judicious Joshua Rigg had
not allowed his parent to perceive that Stone Court
was anything less than the chief good in his esti-
mation, and he had certainly wished to call it his
own. But as Warren Hastings looked at gold
and thought of buying Daylesford, so Joshua
Eigg looked at Stone Court and thought of buying
gold. He had a very distinct and intense vision
of his chief good, the vigorous greed which he had
inherited having taken a special form by dint of
circumstance: and his chief good was to be a
money-changer. From his earliest employment as
an errand-boy in a seaport, he had looked through
the windows of the money-changers as other boys
look through the windows of the pastry-cooks ; the
fascination had wrought itself gradually into a deep
special passion ; he meant, when he had property,
to do many things, one of them being to marry a
genteel young person ; but these were all acci-
dents and joys that imagination could dispense
with. The one joy after which his soul thirsted
was to have a money-changer's shop on a much-
frequented quay, to have locks all round him of
which he held the keys, and to look sublimely
cool as he handled the breeding coins of all nations,
while helpless Cupidity looked at him enviously
from the other side of an iron lattice. The strength
of that passion had been a power enabling him to
master all the knowledge necessary to gratify it.
And when others were thinking that he had
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 171
settled at Stone Court for life, Joshua himself was
thinking that the moment now was not far off
when he should settle on the North Quay with the
best appointments in safes and locks.
Enough. We are concerned with looking at
Joshua Eigg's sale of his land from Mr Bulstrode's
point of view, and he interpreted it as a cheering
dispensation conveying perhaps a sanction to a
purpose which he had for some time entertained
without external encouragement; he interpreted
it thus, but not too confidently, offering up his
thanksgiving in guarded phraseology. His doubts
did not arise from the possible relations of the
event to Joshua Eigg's destiny, which belonged to
the unmapped regions not taken under the provi-
dential government, except perhaps in an imper-
fect colonial way ; but they arose from reflecting
that this dispensation too might be a chastisement
for himself, as Mr Farebrother's induction to the
living clearly was.
This was not what Mr Bulstrode said to any man
for the sake of deceiving him: it was what he
said to himself it was as genuinely his mode
of explaining events as any theory + of yours
may be, if you happen to disagree with him.
Tor the egoism which enters into our theories
does not affect their sincerity ; rather, the more
our egoism is satisfied, the more robust is our
However, whether for sanction or for chastise-
ment, Mr Bulstrode, hardly fifteen months after
the death of Peter Featherstone, had become the
proprietor of Stone Court, and what Peter would
say " if he were worthy to know," had become an
inexhaustible and consolatory subject of conver-
sation to his disappointed relatives. The tables
were now turned on that dear brother departed,
and to contemplate the frustration of his cunning
by the superior cunning of things in general was
a cud of delight to Solomon. Mrs Waule had a
melancholy triumph in the proof that it did not
answer to make false Featherstones and cut off
the genuine; and Sister Martha receiving the news
in the Chalky Flats said, " Dear, dear ! then the
Almighty could have been none so pleased with
the almshouses after all."
Affectionate Mrs Bulstrode was particularly
glad of the advantage which her husband's health
was likely to get from the purchase of Stone
Court. Few days passed without his riding
thither and looking over some part of the farm
with the bailiff, and the evenings were delicious
in that quiet spot, when the new hay-ricks lately
set up were sending forth odours to mingle with
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 173
the breath of the rich old garden. One evening,
while the sun was still above the horizon and
burning in golden lamps among the great walnut
boughs, Mr Bulstrode was pausing on horseback
outside the front gate waiting for Caleb Garth,
who had met him by appointment to give an
opinion on a question of stable drainage, and was
now advising the bailiff in the rick-yard.
Mr Bulstrode was conscious of being in a good
spiritual frame and more than usually serene,
under the influence of his innocent recreation. He
was doctrinally convinced that there was a total
absence of merit in himself; but that doctrinal
conviction may be held without pain when the
sense of demerit does not take a distinct shape in
memory and revive the tingling of shame or the
pang of remorse. Nay, it may be held with in-
tense satisfaction when the depth of our sinning
is but a measure for the depth of forgiveness, and
a clenching proof that we are peculiar instru-
ments of the divine intention. The memory has
as many moods as the temper, and shifts its
scenery like a diorama. At this moment Mr Bul-
strode felt as if the sunshine were all one with
that of far-off evenings when he was a very young
man and used to go out preaching beyond High-
bury. And he would willingly have had that
service of exhortation in prospect now. The texts
were there still, and so was his own facility in
expounding them. His brief reverie was inter-
rupted by the return of Caleb Garth, who also
was on horseback, and was just shaking his bridle
before starting, when he exclaimed
"Bless my heart! what's this fellow in black
coming along the lane ? He's like one of those
men one sees about after the races."
Mr Bulstrode turned his horse and looked along
the lane, but made no reply. The comer was our
slight acquaintance Mr Raffles, whose appearance
presented no other change than such as was due
to a suit of black and a crape hat-band. He was
within three yards of the horsemen now, and they
could see the flash of recognition in his face as he
whirled his stick upward, looking all the while at
Mr Bulstrode, and at last exclaiming :
" By Jove, Nick, it's you ! I couldn't be mis-
taken, though the five -and -twenty years have
played old Boguy with us both ! How are you,
eh? you didn't expect to see me here. Come,
shake us by the hand."
To say that Mr Raffles' manner was rather ex-
cited would be only one mode of saying that it
was evening. Caleb Garth could see that there
was a moment of struggle and hesitation in Mr
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 175
Bulstrode, but it ended in his putting out his
hand coldly to Eaffles and saying
" I did not indeed expect to see you in this
remote country place."
"Well, it belongs to a stepson of mine," said
Eaffles, adjusting himself in a swaggering attitude.
" I came to see him here before. I'm not so sur-
prised at seeing you, old fellow, because I picked
up a letter what you may call a providential thing.
It's uncommonly fortunate I met you, though;
for I don't care about seeing my stepson: he's
not affectionate, and his poor mother's gone now.
To tell the truth, I came out of love to you, Nick :
I came to get your address, for look here !"
Eaffles drew a crumpled paper from his pocket.
Almost any other man than Caleb Garth might
have been tempted to linger on the spot for the
sake of hearing all he could about a man whose
acquaintance with Bulstrode seemed to imply
passages in the banker's life so unlike anything
that was known of him in Middlemarch that they
must have the nature of a secret to pique curiosity.
But Caleb was peculiar : certain human tenden-
cies which are commonly strong were almost
absent from his mind ; and^one of these was curi-
osity about personal affairs. Especially, if there
\vas anything discreditable to be found out con-
cerning another man, Caleb preferred not to know
it ; and if he had to tell anybody under him that
his evil doings were discovered, he was more
embarrassed than the culprit. He now spurred
his horse, and saying, " I wish you good evening,
Mr Bulstrode ; I must be getting home," set off at
" You didn't put your full address to this letter,"
Raffles continued. " That was not like the first-
rate man of business you used to be. 'The Shrubs,'
they may be anywhere : you live near at hand,
eh? have cut the London concern altogether
perhaps turned country squire have a rural
mansion to invite me to. Lord, how many years it
is ago ! The old lady must have been dead a pretty
long while gone to glory without the pain of
knowing how poor her daughter was, eh? But,
by Jove ! you're very pale and pasty, Nick. Come,
if you're going home, I'll walk by your side."
Mr Bulstrode's usual paleness had in fact taken
an almost deathly hue. Five minutes before, the
expanse of his life had been submerged in its even-
ing sunshine which shone backward to its remem-
bered morning: sin seemed to be a question of
doctrine and inward penitence, humiliation an
exercise of the closet, the bearing of his deeds a
matter of private vision adjusted solely by spiritual
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 177
relations and conceptions of the divine purposes.
And now, as if by some hideous magic, this loud
red figure had risen before him in unmanageable
solidity an incorporate past which had not
entered into his imagination of chastisements.
But Mr Bulstrode's thought was busy, and he was
not a man to act or speak rashly.
" I was going home," he said, " but I can defer
my ride a little. And you can, if you please, rest
"Thank you," said Baffles, making a grimace.
" I don't care now about seeing my stepson. I'd
rather go home with you."
" Your stepson, if Mr Eigg Featherstone was he,
is here no longer. I am master here now/'
Baffles opened wide eyes, and gave a long whistle
of surprise, before he said, " Well then, I've no ob-
jection. I've had enough walking from the coach-
road. I never was much of a walker, or rider either.
What I like is a smart vehicle and a spirited cob.
I was always a little heavy in the saddle. What
a pleasant surprise it must be to you to see me,
old fellow ! " he continued, as they turned towards
the house. "You don't say so ; but you never took
your luck heartily you were always thinking of
improving the occasion you'd such a gift for
improving your luck."
VOL. III. M
Mr Eaffles seemed greatly to enjoy his own wit,
and swung his leg in a swaggering manner which
was rather too much for his companion's judicious
" If I remember rightly," Mr Bulstrode observed,
with chill anger, " our acquaintance many years
ago had not the sort of intimacy which you are now
assuming, Mr Baffles. Any services you desire of
me will be the more readily rendered if you will
avoid a tone of familiarity which did not lie in our
former intercourse, and can hardly be warranted
by more than twenty years of separation."
"You don't like being called Nick? Why, I
always called you Nick in my heart, and though
lost to sight, to memory dear. By Jove ! my feel-
ings have ripened for you like fine old cognac. I
hope you've got some in the house now. Josh
filled my flask well the last time."
Mr Bulstrode had not yet fully learned that even
the desire for cognac was not stronger in Baffles
than the desire to torment, and that a hint of annoy-
ance always served him as a fresh cue. But it was
at least clear that further objection was useless,
and Mr Bulstrode, in giving orders to the house-
keeper for the accommodation of the guest, had
a resolute air of quietude.
There was the comfort of thinking that this
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 179
housekeeper had been in the service of Rigg also,
and might accept the idea that Mr Bulstrode
entertained Baffles merely as a friend of her former
master. When there was food and drink spread
before his visitor in the wainscoated parlour, and
no witness in the room, Mr Bulstrode said
"Your habits and mine are so different, Mr
Raffles, that we can hardly enjoy each other's
society. The wisest plan for both of us will there-
fore be to part as soon as possible. Since you
say that you wished to meet me, you probably
considered that you had some business to trans-
act with me. But under the circumstances I will
invite you to remain here for the night, and I will
myself ride over here early to-morrow morning
before breakfast, in fact, when I can receive any
communication you have to make to me."
"With all my heart," said Raffles; "this is a
comfortable place a little dull for a continuance ;
but I can put up with it for a night, with this
good liquor and the prospect of seeing you again
in the morning. You're a much better host than
my stepson was ; but Josh owed me a bit of a
grudge for marrying his mother ; and between you
and me there was never anything but kindness/'
Mr Bulstrode, hoping that the peculiar mixture
of joviality and sneering in Raffles' manner was a
good deal the effect of drink, had determined to
wait till he was quite sober before he spent more
words upon him. But he rode home with a terri-
bly lucid vision of the difficulty there would be
in arranging any result that could be permanently
counted on with this man. It was inevitable
that he should wish to get rid of John Raffles,
though his reappearance could not be regarded as
lying outside the divine plan. The spirit of evil
might have sent him to threaten Mr Bulstrode's
subversion as an instrument of good; but the
threat must have been permitted, and was a chas-
tisement of a new kind. It was an hour of
anguish for him very different from the hours in
which his struggle had been securely private, and
which had ended with a sense that his secret mis-
deeds were pardoned and his services accepted.
Those misdeeds even when committed had they
not been half sanctified by the singleness of his
desire to devote himself and all he possessed to the
furtherance of the divine scheme ? And was he
after all to become a mere stone of stumbling and
a rock of offence ? For who would understand
the work within him? Who would not, when
there was the pretext of casting disgrace upon
him, confound his whole life and the truths he had
espoused, in one heap of obloquy ?
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 181
In liis closest meditations the life-long habit of
Mr Bulstrode's mind clad his most egoistic terrors
in doctrinal references to superhuman ends. But
even while we are talking and meditating about
the earth's orbit and the solar system, what we
feel and adjust our movements to is the stable
earth and the changing day. And now within all
the automatic succession of theoretic phrases dis-
tinct and inmost as the shiver and the ache of on-
coming fever when we are discussing abstract
pain, was the forecast of disgrace in the presence
of his neighbours and of his own wife. For the
pain, as well as the public estimate of disgrace, de-
pends on the amount of previous profession. To
men who only aim at escaping felony, nothing
short of the prisoner's dock is disgrace. But Mr
Bulstrode had aimed at being an eminent Christian.
It was not more than half-past seven in the
morning when he again reached Stone Court.
The fine old place never looked more like a de-
lightful home than at that moment; the great
white lilies were in flower, the nasturtiums, their
pretty leaves all silvered with dew, were run-
ning away over the low stone wall ; the very noises
all around had a heart of peace within them. But
everything was spoiled for the owner as he walked
on the gravel in front and awaited the descent
of Mr Raffles, with whom he was condemned to
It was not long before they were seated toge-
ther in the wainscoated parlour over their tea and
toast, which was as much as Raffles cared to take
at that early hour. The difference between his
morning and evening self was not so great as
his companion had imagined that it might be;
the delight in tormenting was perhaps even the
stronger because his spirits were rather less highly
pitched. Certainly his manners seemed more
disagreeable by the morning light.
"As I have little time to spare, Mr Raffles,"
said the banker, who could hardly do more than
sip his tea and break his toast without eating it,
" I shall be obliged if you will mention at once
the ground on which you wished to meet with me.
I presume that you have a home elsewhere and
will be glad to return to it."
" Why, if a man has got any heart, doesn't he
want to see an old friend, Nick ? I must call
you Nick we always did call you young Nick
when we knew you meant to ^ marry the old
widow. Some said you had a handsome family
likeness to old Nick, but that was your mother's
fault, calling you Nicholas. Aren't you glad to
see me again ? I expected an invite to stay with
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 183
you at some pretty place. My own establish-
ment is broken up now my wife's dead. I've no
particular attachment to any spot ; I would as
soon settle hereabout as anywhere."
" May I ask why you returned from America ?
I considered that the strong wish you expressed
to go there, when an adequate sum was furnished,
was tantamount to an engagement that you
would remain there for life."
" Never knew that a wish to go to a place was
the same thing as a wish to stay. But I did stay
a matter of ten years ; it didn't suit me to stay
any longer. And I'm not going again, Nick."
Here Mr Baffles winked slowly as he looked at
" Do you wish to be settled in any business ?
What is your calling now ? "
"Thank you, my calling is to enjoy myself as
much as I can. I don't care about working any
more. If I did anything it would be a little
travelling in the tobacco line or something of
that sort, which takes a man into agreeable com-
pany. But not without an independence to fall
back upon. That's what I want : I'm not so strong
as I was, Nick, though I've got more colour than
you. I want an independence/'
" That could be supplied to you, if you would
engage to keep at a distance," said Mr Bulstrode,
perhaps with a little too much eagerness in his
"That must be as it suits my convenience,"
said Raffles, coolly. "I see no reason why I
shouldn't make a few acquaintances hereabout.
I'm not ashamed of myself as company for any-
body. I dropped my portmanteau at the turn-
pike when I got down change of linen genu-
ine honour bright ! more than fronts and wrist-
bands ; and with this suit of mourning, straps and
everything, I should do you credit among the
nobs here." Mr Eaffles had pushed away his
chair and looked down at himself, particularly at
his straps. His chief intention was to annoy
Bulstrode, but he really thought that his appear-
ance now would produce a good effect, and that
he was not only handsome and witty, but clad in
a mourning style which implied solid connections.
" If you intend to rely on me in any way, Mr
Eaffles," said Bulstrode, after a moment's pause,
" you will expect to meet my wishes/'
" Ah, to be sure," said Baffles, with a mocking
cordiality. " Didn't I always do it ? Lord, you
made a pretty thing out of me, and I got but
little. I've often thought since, I might have
done better by telling the old woman that I'd
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 185
found her daughter and her grandchild : it would
have suited my feelings better ; I've got a soft
place in my heart. But you've buried the old lady
by this time, I suppose it's all one to her now.
And you've got your fortune out of that profitable
business which had such a blessing on it. You've
taken to being a nob, buying land, being a country
bashaw. Still in the Dissenting line, eh ? Still
godly? Or taken to the Church as more genteel?"
This time Mr Baffles' slow wink and slight
protrusion of his tongue was worse than a night-
mare, because it held the certitude that it was
not a nightmare, but a waking misery. Mr Bui-
strode felt a shuddering nausea, and did not speak,
but was considering diligently whether he should
not leave Baffles to do as he would, and simply
defy him as a slanderer. The man would soon
show himself disreputable enough to make people
disbelieve him. " But not when he tells any
ugly-looking truth about you" said discerning
consciousness. And again : it seemed no wrong
to keep Baffles at a distance, but Mr Bulstrode
shrank from the direct falsehood of denying true
statements. It was one thing to look back on for-
given sins, nay, to explain questionable conformity
to lax customs, and another to enter deliberately
on the necessity of falsehood.
But since Bulstrode did not speak, Baffles ran
on, by way of using time to the utmost.
" I've not had such fine luck as you, by Jove !
Things went confoundedly with me in New York;
those Yankees are cool hands, and a man of gen-
tlemanly feelings has no chance with them. I
married when I came back a nice woman in the
tobacco trade very fond of me but the trade
was restricted, as we say. She had been settled
there a good many years by a friend ; but there
was a son too much in the case. Josh and I
never hit it off. However, I made the most of
the position, and I've always taken my glass in
good company. It's been all on the square with
me ; I'm as open as the day. You won't take it
ill of me that I didn't look you up before ; I've
got a complaint that makes me a little dilatory.
I thought you were trading and praying away in
London still, and didn't find you there. But you
see I was sent to you, Nick perhaps for a bles-
sing to both of us."
Mr Baffles ended with a jocose snuffle : no man
felt his intellect more superior to religious cant.
And if the cunning which calculates on the mean-
est feelings in men could be called intellect, he
had his share, for under the blurting rallying
tone with which he spoke to Bulstrode, there was
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND, 187
an evident selection of statements, as if they had
been so many moves at chess. Meanwhile Bui-
strode had determined on his move, and he said,
with gathered resolution
" You will do well to reflect, Mr Baffles, that it
is possible for a man to overreach himself in the
effort to secure undue advantage. Although I am
not in any way bound to you, I am willing to
supply you with a regular annuity in quarterly
payments so long as you fulfil a promise to
remain at a distance from this neighbourhood.
It is in your power to choose. If you insist on
remaining here, even for a short time, you will
get nothing from me. I shall decline to know
" Ha, ha !" said Baffles, with an affected explo-
sion, " that reminds me of a droll dog of a thief
who declined to know the constable."
" Your allusions are lost on me, sir," said Bui-
strode, with white heat ; " the law has no hold on
me either through your agency or any other."
"You can't understand a joke, my good fellow.
I only meant that I should never decline to know
you. But let us be serious. Your quarterly pay-
ment won't quite suit me. I like my freedom."
Here Baffles rose and stalked once or twice up
and down the room, swinging his leg, and assum-
ing an air of masterly meditation. At last he
stopped opposite Bulstrode, and said, " I'll tell
you what ! Give us a couple of hundreds come,
that's modest and I'll go away honour bright !
pick up my portmanteau and go away. But
I shall not give up my liberty for a dirty annuity.
I shall come and go where I like. Perhaps it
may suit me to stay away, and correspond with a
friend ; perhaps not. Have you the money with
"No, I have one hundred," said Bulstrode,
feeling the immediate riddance too great a relief
to be rejected on the ground of future uncertain-
ties. " I will forward you the other if you will
mention an address."
"No, I'll wait here till you bring it," said
Baffles. " I'll take a stroll, and have a snack, and
you'll be back by that time."
Mr Bulstrode's sickly body, shattered by the
agitations he had gone through since the last
evening, made him feel abjectly in the power of
this loud invulnerable man. At that moment he
snatched at a temporary repose to be won on any
terms. He was rising to do what Baffles sug-
gested, when the latter said, lifting up his finger
as if with a sudden recollection
" I did have another look after Sarah again,
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 189
though I didn't tell you ; I'd a tender conscience
about that pretty young woman. I didn't find
her, but I found out her husband's name, and I
made a note of it. But hang it, I lost my pocket-
book. However, if I heard it, I should know it
again. I've got my faculties as if I was in my
prime, but names wear out, by Jove ! Sometimes
I'm no better than a confounded tax-paper before
the names are filled in. However, if I hear of her
and her family, you shall know, Nick. You'd like
to do something for her, now she's yotu step-
" Doubtless," said Mr Bulstrode, with the usual
steady look of his light-grey eyes ; " though that
might reduce my power of assisting you."
As he walked out of the room, Baffles winked
slowly at his back, and then turned towards the
window to watch the banker riding away virtu-
ally at his command. His lips first curled with
a smile and then opened with a short triumphant
"But what the deuce was the name?" he pre-
sently said, half aloud, scratching his head, and
wrinkling his brows horizontally. He had not
really cared or thought about this point of forget-
fulness until it occurred to him in his invention of
annoyances for Bulstrode.
" It began with L ; it was almost all Ts, I
fancy," he went on, with a sense that he was
getting hold of the slippery name. But the hold
was too slight, and he soon got tired of this men-
tal chase; for few men were more impatient of
private occupation or more in need of making
themselves continually heard than Mr Eaffles.
He preferred using his time in pleasant conversa-
tion with the bailiff and the housekeeper, from
whom he gathered as much as he wanted to know
about Mr Bulstrode's position in Middlemarch.
After all, however, there was a dull space of
time which needed relieving with bread and
cheese and ale, and when he was seated alone
with these resources in the wainscoated parlour,
he suddenly slapped his knee, and exclaimed,
" Ladislaw ! " That action of memory which he
had tried to set going, and had abandoned in
despair, had suddenly completed itself without
conscious effort a common experience, agreeable
as a completed sneeze, even if the name remem-
bered is of no value. Eaffles immediately took out
his pocket-book, and wrote down the name, not
because he expected to use it, but merely for the
sake of not being at a loss if he ever did happen
to want it. He was not going to tell Bulstrode :
there was no actual good in telling, and to a mind
BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 191
like that of Mr Baffles there is always probable
good in a secret.
He was satisfied with his present success, and
by three o'clock that day he had taken up his
portmanteau at the turnpike and mounted the
coach, relieving Mr Bulstrode's eyes of an ugly
black spot on the landscape at Stone Court, but
not relieving him of the dread that the black
spot might reappear and become inseparable even
from the vision of his hearth.
THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE
THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE.
" Negli occhi porta la mia donna Amore ;
Per che si fa gentil ci6 ch'ella mira :
Ov'ella passa, ogni uom ver lei si gira,
E cui saluta fa tremar lo core.
Sieche, bassando il viso, tutto smore,
E d 'ogni suo difetto allor sospira :
Fuggon dinanzi a lei Superbia ed Ira :
Aiutatemi, donne, a farle onore.
Ogni dolcezza, ogni pensiero umile
Nasce nel core a chi parlar la aente ;
Ond' e beato chi prima la vide.
Quel ch'ella par quand' un poco sorride,
Non si pu6 dicer, n& tener a mente,
Si e nuovo miracolo gentile."
DANTE : La Vita Nuova.
BY that delightful morning when the hayricks at
Stone Court were scenting the air quite impar-
tially, as if Mr Baffles had been a guest worthy of
finest incense, Dorothea had again taken up her
abode at Lowick Manor. After three months
Freshitt had become rather oppressive : to sit like
a model for Saint Catherine looking rapturously at
Celia's baby would not do for many hours in the
day, and to remain in that momentous babe's
presence with persistent disregard was a course
that could not have been tolerated in a childless
sister. Dorothea would have been capable of
carrying baby joyfully for a mile if there had been
need, and of loving it the more tenderly for that
labour ; but to an aunt who does not recognise her
infant nephew as Bouddha, and has nothing to do
for him but to admire, his behaviour is apt to
appear monotonous, and the interest of watching
This possibility was quite hidden from Celia,
who felt that Dorothea's childless widowhood fell
in quite prettily with the birth of little Arthur
(baby was named after Mr Brooke).
" Dodo is just the creature not to mind about
having anything of her own children or any-
thing ! " said Celia to her husband. " And if she
had had a baby, it never could have been such a
dear as Arthur. Could it, James ? "
" Not if it had been like Casaubon," said Sir
James, conscious of some indirectness in his
answer, and of holding a strictly private opinion
as to the perfections of his first-born.
"No ! just imagine ! Eeally it was a mercy,"
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 197
said Celia ; " and I think it is very nice for Dodo
to be a widow. She can be just as fond of our
baby as if it were her own, and she can have as
many notions of her own as she likes.'*
"It is a pity she was not a queen," said the
devout Sir James.
" But what should we have been then \ We
must have been something else," said Celia, object-
ing to so laborious a flight of imagination. " I
like her better as she is."
Hence, when she found that Dorothea was
making arrangements for her final departure to
Lowick, Celia raised her eyebrows with disappoint-
ment, and in her quiet unemphatic way shot a
needle-arrow of sarcasm.
" What will you do at Lowick, Dodo ? You say
yourself there is nothing to be done there : every-
body is so clean and well off, it makes you quite
melancholy. And here you have been so happy
going all about Tipton with Mr Garth into the
worst backyards. And now uncle is abroad, you
and Mr Garth can have it all your own way ;
and I am sure James does everything you tell
" I shall often come here, and I shall see how
baby grows all the better," said Dorothea.
" But you will never see him washed," said
Celia : " and that is quite the best part of the
day." She was almost pouting: it did seem to
her very hard in Dodo to go away from the baby
when she might stay.
"Dear Kitty, I will come and stay all night
on purpose," said Dorothea*; "but I want to be
alone now, and in my own home. I wish to
know the Farebrothers better, and to talk to Mr
Farebrother about what there is to be done in
Dorothea's native strength of will was no longer
all converted into resolute submission. She had
a great yearning to be at Lowick, and was simply
determined to go, not feeling bound to tell all
her reasons. But every one around her disap-
proved. Sir James was much pained, and offered
that they should all migrate to Cheltenham for
a few months with the sacred ark, otherwise
called a cradle : at that period a man could
hardly know what to propose if Cheltenham
The Dowager Lady Chettam, just returned from
a visit to her daughter in town, wished, at least,
that Mrs Vigo should be written to, and invited
to accept the office of companion to Mrs Casau-
bon: it was not credible that Dorothea as a
young widow would think of living alone in the
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 199
house at Lowick. Mrs Yigo had been reader and
secretary to royal personages, and in point of
knowledge and sentiments even Dorothea could
have nothing to object to her.
Mrs Cadwallader said, privately, " You will cer
tainly go mad in that house alone, my dear. You will
see visions. We have all got to exert ourselves a
little to keep sane, and call things by the same
names as other people call them by. To be sure,
for younger sons and women who have no money,
it is a sort of provision to go mad : they are taken
care of then. But you must not run into that. I
daresay you are a little bored here with our good
dowager ; but think what a bore you might be-
come yourself to your fellow-creatures if you were
always playing tragedy queen and taking things
sublimely. Sitting alone in that library at Lowick
you may fancy yourself ruling the weather ; you
must get a few people round you who wouldn't
believe you if you told them. That is a good
" I never called everything by the same name
that all the people about me did," said Dorothea,
" But I suppose you have found out your mis-
take, my dear," said Mrs Cadwallader, " and that
is a proof of sanity."
Dorothea was aware of the sting, but it did not
hurt her. "No," she said, " I still think that the
greater part of the world is mistaken about many
things. Surely one may be sane and yet think
so, since the greater part of the world has often
had to come round from its opinion."
Mrs Cadwallader said no more on that point to
Dorothea, but to her husband she remarked, " It
will be well for her to marry again as soon as it
is proper, if one could get her among the right
people. Of course the Chettams would not wish
it. But I see clearly a husband is the best thing
to keep her in order. If we were not so poor I
would invite Lord Triton. He will be marquis
some day, and there is no denying that she would
make a good marchioness : she looks handsomer
than ever in her mourning."
" My dear Elinor, do let the poor woman alone.
Such contrivances are of no use," said the easy
" No use ? How are matches made, except by
bringing men and women together ? And it is a
shame that her uncle should have run away and
shut up the Grange just now. There ought to be
plenty of eligible matches invited to Freshitt and
the Grange. Lord Triton is precisely the man:
full of plans for making the people happy in a
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 201
soft-headed sort of way. That would just suit
" Let Mrs Casaubon choose for herself, Elinor/'
" That is the nonsense you wise men talk ! How
can she choose if she has no variety to choose
from ? A woman's choice usually means taking
the only man she can get. Mark my words,
Humphrey. If her friends don't exert themselves,
there will be a worse business than the Casaubon
" For heaven's sake don't touch on that topic,
Elinor ! It is a very sore point with Sir James.
He would be deeply offended if you entered on it
to him unnecessarily."
" I have never entered on it," said Mrs Cadwal-
lader, opening her hands. " Celia told me all about
the will at the beginning, without any asking of
" Yes, yes ; but they want the thing hushed up,
and I understand that the young fellow is going
out of the neighbourhood."
Mrs Cadwallader said nothing, but gave her
husband three significant nods, with a very sar-
castic expression in her dark eyes.
Dorothea quietly persisted in spite of remon-
strance and persuasion. So by the end of June
the shutters were all opened at Lowick Manor,
and the morning gazed calmly into the library,
shining on the rows of note-books as it shines on
the weary waste planted with huge stones, the
mute memorial of a forgotten faith ; and the even-
ing laden with roses entered silently into the blue-
green boudoir where Dorothea chose oftenest to
sit. At first she walked into every room, ques-
tioning the eighteen months of her married life,
and carrying on her thoughts as if they were a
speech to be heard by her husband. Then, she
lingered in the library and could not be at rest
till she had carefully ranged all the note-books as
she imagined that he would wish to see them, in
orderly sequence. The pity which had been the
restraining compelling motive in her life with him
still clung about his image, even while she remon-
strated with him in indignant thought and told
him that he was unjust. One little act of hers
may perhaps be smiled at as superstitious. The
Synoptical Tabulation, for the use of Mrs Casaubon,
she carefully enclosed and sealed, writing within
the envelope, " / could not use it. Do you not see
now that I could not submit my soul to yours, by
working hopelessly at what I have no belief in ?
Dorothea" Then she deposited the paper in her
That silent colloquy was perhaps only the more
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 203
earnest because underneath and through it all
there was always the deep longing which had
really determined her to come to Lowick. The
longing was to see Will Ladislaw. She did not
know any good that could come of their meeting :
she was helpless ; her hands had been tied from
making up to him for any unfairness in his lot.
But her soul thirsted to see him. How could it
be otherwise ? If a princess in the days of en-
chantment had seen a four-footed creature from
among those which live in herds come to her once
and again with a human gaze which rested upon
her with choice and beseeching, what would she
think of in her journeying, what would she look
for when the herds passed her ? Surely for the
gaze which had found her, and which she would
know again. Life would be no better than candle-
light tinsel and daylight nibbish if our spirits
were not touched by what has been, to issues of
longing and constancy. It was true that Dorothea
wanted to know the Farebrothers better, and espe-
cially to talk to the new rector, but also true that
remembering what Lydgate had told her about
Will Ladislaw and little Miss Noble, she counted
on Will's coming to Lowick to see the Farebrother
family. The very first Sunday, 'before, she entered
the church, she saw him as she had seen him the
last time she was there, alone. in the clergym*
pew ; but when she entered his figure was gone.
In the week-days when she went to see the
ladies at the Rectory, she listened in vain for some
word that they might let fall about Will ; but it
seemed to her that Mrs Farebrother talked of
every one else in the neighbourhood and out of it.
"Probably some of Mr Farebrother' s Middle-
march hearers may follow him to Lowick some-
times. Do you not think so?" said Dorothea,
rather despising herself for having a secret motive
in asking the question.
"If they are wise, they will, Mrs Casaubon,"
said the old lady. " I see that you set a right value
on my son's preaching. His grandfather on my side
was an excellent clergyman, but his father was in
the law : most exemplary and honest neverthe-
less, which is a reason for our never being rich.
They say Fortune is a woman and capricious.
But sometimes she is a good woman, and gives to
those who merit, which has been the case with
you, Mrs Casaubon, who have given a living to
Mrs Farebrother recurred to her knitting with
a dignified satisfaction in her neat little effort at
oratory, but this was not what Dorothea wanted
to hear. Poor thing ! she did not even know whether
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 205
Will Ladislaw was still at Middlemarch, and there
was no one whom she dared to ask, unless it were
Lydgate. But just now she could not see Lydgate
without sending for him or going to seek him.
Perhaps Will Ladislaw, having heard of that
strange ban against him left by Mr Casaubon, had
felt it better that he and she should not meet
again, and perhaps she was wrong to wish for a
meeting that others might find many good reasons
against. Still " I do wish it " came at the end of
those wise reflections as naturally as a sob after
holding the breath. And the meeting did happen,
but in a formal way quite unexpected by her.
One morning, about eleven, Dorothea was seated
in her boudoir with a map of the land attached to
the manor and other papers before her, which were
to help her in making an exact statement for her-
self of her income and affairs. She had not yet
applied herself to her work, but was seated with
her hands folded on her lap, looking out along the
avenue of limes to the distant fields. Every leaf
was at rest in the sunshine, the familiar scene was
changeless, and seemed to represent the prospect
of her life, full of motiveless ease motiveless, if
her own energy could not seek out reasons for
ardent action. The widow's cap of those times
made an oval frame for the face, and had a crown
standing up ; the dress was an experiment in the
utmost laying on of crape ; but this heavy solem-
nity of clothing made her face look all the younger,
with its recovered bloom, and the sweet, inquiring
candour of her eyes.
Her reverie was broken by Tantripp, who came
to say that Mr Ladislaw was below, and begged
permission to see Madam if it were not too early.
" I will see him," said Dorothea, rising imme-
diately. "Let him be shown into the drawing-
The drawing-room was the most neutral room
in the house to her the one least associated with
the trials of her married life : the damask matched
the wood-work, which was all white and gold; there
were two tall mirrors and tables with nothing on
them in brief, it was a room where you had no
reason for sitting in one place rather than in an-
other. It was below the boudoir, and had also a
bowrwindow looking out on the avenue. But
when Pratt showed Will Ladislaw into it the
window was open ; and a winged visitor, buzzing
in and out now and then without minding the
furniture, made the room look less formal and
"Glad to see you here again, sir," said Pratt,
lingering to adjust a blind.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 207
" I am only come to say good-bye, Pratt," said
Will, who wished even the butler to know that he
was too proud to hang about Mrs Casaubon now
she was a rich widow.
"Very sorry to hear it, sir," said Pratt, retiring.
Of course, as a servant who was to be told nothing,
he knew the fact of which Ladislaw was still igno-
rant, and had drawn his inferences ; indeed, had
not differed from his betrothed Tantripp when she
said, " Your master was as jealous as a fiend and
no reason. Madam would look higher than Mr
Ladislaw, else I don't know her. Mrs Cadwalla-
der's maid says there's a lord coming who is to
marry her, when the mourning's over."
There were not many moments for Will to walk
about with his hat in his hand before Dorothea
entered. The meeting was very different from
that first meeting in Rome when Will had been
embarrassed and Dorothea calm. This time he felt
miserable but determined, while she was in a state
of agitation which could not be hidden. Just
outside the door she had felt that this longed-for
meeting was after all too difficult, and when she
saw Will advancing towards her, the deep blush
which was rare in her came with painful sudden-
ness. Neither of them knew how it was, but
neither of them spoke. She gave her hand for a
moment, and then they went to sit down near the
window, she on one settee and he on another oppo-
site. Will was peculiarly uneasy : it seemed to
him not like Dorothea that the mere fact of her
being a widow should cause such a change in her
manner of receiving him; and he knew of no
other condition which could have affected their
previous relation to each other except that, as
his imagination at once told him, her friends
might have been poisoning her mind with their
suspicions of him.
" I hope I have not presumed too much in call-
ing," said Will ; " I could not bear to leave the
neighbourhood and begin a new life without seeing
you to say good-bye."
"Presumed? Surely not. I should have thought
it unkind of you not to wish to see me," said Doro-
thea, her habit of speaking with perfect genuine-
ness asserting itself through all her uncertainty
and agitation. " Are you going away imme-
diately ? "
"Very soon, I think. I intend to go to town
and eat my dinners as a barrister, since, they say,
that is the preparation for all public business.
There will be a great deal of political work to be
done by-and-by, and I mean to try and do some of
it. Other men have managed to win an honour-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 209
able position for themselves without family or
" And that will make it all the more honour-
able," said Dorothea, ardently. "Besides, you
have so many talents. I have heard from my
uncle how well you speak in public, so that every
one is sorry when you leave off, and how clearly
you can explain things. And you care that jus-
tice should be done to every one. I am so glad.
When we were in Eome, I thought you only cared
for poetry and art, and the things that adorn life
for us who are well off. But now I know you
think about the rest of the world."
While she was speaking Dorothea had lost her
personal embarrassment, and had become like her
former self. She looked at Will with a direct
glance, full of delighted confidence.
" You approve of my going away for years, then,
and never coming here again till I have made
myself of some mark in the world ? " said Will,
trying hard to reconcile the utmost pride with the
utmost effort to get an expression of strong feeling
She was not aware how long it was before she
answered. She had turned her head and was
looking out of the window on the rose-bushes,
which seemed to have in them the summers of all
VOL. III. O
the years when Will would be away. This was
not judicious behaviour. But Dorothea never
thought of studying her manners: she thought
only of bowing to a sad necessity which divided
her from Will. Those first words of his about his
intentions had seemed to make everything clear to
her : he knew, she supposed, all about Mr Casau-
bon's final conduct in relation to him, and it had
come to him with the same sort of shock as to
herself. He had never felt more than friend-
ship for her had never had anything in his
mind to justify what she felt to be her hus-
band's outrage on the feelings of both : and that
friendship he still felt. Something which may
be called an inward silent sob had gone on in
Dorothea before she said with a pure voice, just
trembling in the last words as if only from its
" Yes, it must be right for you to do as you say.
I shall be very happy when I hear that you have
made your value felt. But you must have patience.
It will perhaps be a long while."
Will never quite knew how it was that he saved
himself from falling down at her feet, when the
"long while" came forth with its gentle tremor.
He used to say that the horrible hue and surface
of her crape dress was most likely the sufficient
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 211
controlling force. He sat still, however, and only
" I shall never hear from you. And you will
forget all about me."
" No," said Dorothea, " I shall never forget you.
I have never forgotten any one whom I once
knew. My life has never been crowded, and
seems not likely to be so. And I have a great
deal of space for memory at Lowick, haven't I ? "
" Good God ! " Will burst out passionately,
rising, with his hat still in his hand, and walking
away to a marble table, where he suddenly turned
and leaned his back against it. The blood had
mounted to his face and neck, and he looked
almost angry. It had seemed to him as if they
were like two creatures slowly turning to marble
in each other's presence, while their hearts were
conscious and their eyes were yearning. But
there was no help for it. It should never be true
of him that in this meeting to which he had come
with bitter resolution he had ended by a confession
which might be interpreted into asking for her
fortune. Moreover, it was actually true that he
was fearful of the effect which such confessions
might have on Dorothea herself.
She looked at him from that distance in some
trouble, imagining that there might have been
an offence in her words. But all the while there
was a current of thought in her about his pro-
bable want of money, and the impossibility of
her helping him. If her uncle had been at home,
something might have been done through him !
It was this preoccupation with the hardship of
Will's wanting money, while she had what ought
to have been his share, which led her to say,
seeing that he remained silent and looked away
"I wonder whether you would like to have
that miniature which hangs up-stairs I mean
that beautiful miniature of your grandmother.
I think it is not right for me to keep it, if you
would wish to have it. It is wonderfully like
" You are very good," said Will, irritably. " No ;
I don't mind about it. It is not very consoling
to have one's own likeness. It would be more
consoling if others wanted to have it."
"I thought you would like to cherish her
memory I thought " Dorothea broke off an
instant, her imagination suddenly warning her
away from Aunt Julia's history "you would
surely like to have the miniature as a family
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 213
" Why should I have that, when I have noth-
ing else? A man with only a portmanteau for
his stowage must keep his memorials in his
Will spoke at random: he was merely vent-
ing his petulance ; it was a little too exasperating
to have his grandmother's portrait offered him
at that moment. But to Dorothea's feeling his
words had a peculiar sting. She rose and said
with a touch of indignation as well as hauteur
"You are much the happier of us two, Mr
Ladislaw, to have nothing."
Will was startled. Whatever the words might
be, the tone seemed like a dismissal ; and quitting
his leaning posture, he walked a little way to-
wards her. Their eyes met, but with a strange
questioning gravity. Something was keeping
their minds aloof, and each was left to conjecture
what was in the other. Will had really never
thought of himself as having a claim of inherit-
ance on the property which was held by Doro-
thea, and would have required a narrative to
make him understand her present feeling.
" I never felt it a misfortune to have nothing
till now," he said. " But poverty may be as bad
as leprosy, if it divides us from what we most
The words cut Dorothea to the heart, and made
her relent. She answered in a tone of sad fellow-
" Sorrow comes in so many ways. Two years
ago I had no notion of that I mean of the unex-
pected way in which trouble comes, and ties our
hands, and makes us silent when we long to
speak. I used to despise women a little for not
shaping their lives more, and doing better things.
I was very fond of doing as I liked, but I have
almost given it up," she ended, smiling play-
" I have not given up doing as I like, but I can
very seldom do it," said Will. He was standing
two yards from her with his mind full of contra-
dictory desires and resolves desiring some un-
mistakable proof that she loved him, and yet
dreading the position into which such a proof
might bring him. "The thing one most longs
for may be surrounded with conditions that would
At this moment Pratt entered and said, " Sir
James Chettam is in the library, madam."
" Ask Sir James to come in here," said Doro-
thea, immediately. It was as if the same electric
shock had passed through her and Will Each of
them felt proudly resistant, and neither looked
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 215
at the other, while they awaited Sir James's en-
After shaking hands with Dorothea, he bowed
as slightly as possible to Ladislaw, who repaid
the slightness exactly, and then going towards
"I must say good-bye, Mrs Casaubon; and
probably for a long while."
Dorothea put out her hand and said her good-
bye cordially. The sense that Sir James was
depreciating Will, and behaving rudely to him,
roused her resolution and dignity : there was no
touch of confusion in her manner. And when
Will had left the room, she looked with such
calm self-possession at Sir James, saying, " How
is Celia?" that he was obliged to behave as if
nothing had annoyed Mm. And what would be
the use of behaving otherwise ? Indeed, Sir James
shrank with so much dislike from the association
even in thought of Dorothea with Ladislaw as her
possible lover, that he would himself have wished
to avoid an outward show of displeasure which
would have recognised the disagreeable possibility.
If any one had asked him why he shrank in that
way, I am not sure that he would at first have said
anything fuller or more precise than " that Ladis-
law ! " though on reflection he might have urged
that Mr Casaubon's codicil, barring Dorothea's
marriage with Will, except under a penalty, was
enough to cast unfitness over any relation at all
between them. His aversion was all the stronger
because he felt himself unable to interfere.
But Sir James was a power in a way unguessed
by himself. Entering at that moment, he was an
incorporation of the strongest reasons through
which Will's pride became a repellent force, keep-
ing him asunder from Dorothea.
Hath she her faults ? I would you had them too.
They are the fruity must of soundest wine ;
Or say, they are regenerating fire
Such as hath turned the dense black element
Into a crystal pathway for the sun.
IF youth is the season of hope, it is often so only
in the sense that our elders are hopeful about us ;
for no age is so apt as youth to think its emotions,
partings, and resolves are the last of their kind.
Each crisis seems final, simply because it is new.
We are told that the oldest inhabitants in Peru
do not cease to be agitated by the earthquakes,
but they probably see beyond each shock, and
reflect that there are plenty more to come.
To Dorothea, still in that time of youth when
the eyes with their long full lashes look out after
their rain of tears unsoiled and unwearied as a
freshly-opened passion-flower, that morning's part-
ing with Will Ladislaw seemed to be the close of
their personal relations. He was going away into
the distance of unknown years, and if ever he
came back he would be another man. The actual
state of his mind his proud resolve to give the
lie beforehand to any suspicion that he would play
the needy adventurer seeking a rich woman lay
quite out of her imagination, and she had inter-
preted all his behaviour easily enough by her sup-
position that Mr Casaubon's codicil seemed to him,
as it did to her, a gross and cruel interdict on any
active friendship between them. Their young
delight in speaking to each other, and saying what
no one else would care to hear, was for ever ended,
and become a treasure of the past. For this very
reason she dwelt on it without inward check. That
unique happiness too was dead, and in its shadowed
silent chamber she might vent the passionate
grief which she herself wondered at. For the first
time she took down the miniature from the wall
and kept it before her, liking to blend the woman
who had been too hardly judged with the grand-
son whom her own heart and judgment defended.
Can any one who has rejoiced in woman's tender-
ness think it a reproach to her that she took the
little oval picture in her palm and made a bed for
it there, and leaned her cheek upon it, as if that
would soothe the creatures who had suffered un-
just condemnation ? She did not know then that
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 219
it was Love who had come to her briefly, as in a
dream before awaking, with the hues of morning
in his wings, and Love to whom she was sobbing
her farewell as his image was banished by the
insistent day. She only felt that there was some-
thing irrevocably amiss and lost in her lot, and
her thoughts about the future were the more
readily shapen into resolve. Ardent souls, ready
to construct their coming lives, are apt to commit
themselves to the fulfilment of their own visions.
One day that she went to Freshitt to fulfil her
promise of staying all night and seeing baby
washed, Mrs Cadwallader came to dine, the Eector
being gone on a fishing excursion. It was a warm
evening, and even in the delightful drawing-room,
where the fine old turf sloped from the open
window towards a lilied pool and well-planted
mounds, the heat was enough to make Celia in
her white muslin and light curls reflect with pity
on what Dodo must feel in her black dress and
close cap. But this was not until some episodes
with baby were over, and had left her mind at
leisure. She had seated herself and taken up a
fan for some time before she said, in her quiet
" Dear Dodo, do throw off that cap. I am sure
your dress must make you feel ill."
" I am so used to the cap it has become a sort
of shell," said Dorothea, smiling. " I feel rather
bare and exposed when it is off."
" I must see you without it ; it makes us all
warm," said Celia, throwing down her fan, and
going to Dorothea. It was a pretty picture to see
this little lady in white muslin unfastening the
widow's cap from her more majestic sister, and
tossing it on to a chair. Just as the coils and
braids of dark-brown hair had been set free, Sir
James entered the room. He looked at the re-
leased head, and said, " Ah ! " in a tone of satis-
" It was I who did it, James," said Celia. "Dodo
need not make such a slavery of her mourning ;
she need not wear that cap any more among her
" My dear Celia," said Lady Chettam ; " a
widow must wear her mourning at least a year."
" Not if she marries again before the end of it,"
said Mrs Cadwallader, who had some pleasure in
startling her good friend the Dowager. Sir James
was annoyed, and leaned forward to play with
Celia's Maltese dog.
" That is very rare, I hope," said Lady Chettam,
in a tone intended to guard against such events.
" No friend of ours ever committed herself in that
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 221
way except Mrs Beevor, and it was very painful
to Lord Grinsell when she did so. Her first hus-
band was objectionable, which made it the greater
wonder. And severely she was punished for it.
They said Captain Beevor dragged her about by
the hair, and held up loaded pistols at her."
" Oh, if she took the wrong man ! " said Mrs Cad-
wallader, who was in a decidedly wicked mood.
"Marriage is always bad then, first or second.
Priority is a poor recommendation in a husband if
he has got no other. I would rather have a good
second husband than an indifferent first."
" My dear, your clever tongue runs away with
you," said Lady Chettam. " I am sure you would
be the last woman to marry again prematurely, if
our dear Eector were taken away."
" Oh, I make no vows ; it might be a necessary
economy. It is lawful to marry again, I suppose ;
else we might as well be Hindoos instead of
Christians. Of course if a woman accepts the
wrong man, she must take the consequences, and
one who does it twice over deserves her fate. But
if she can marry blood, beauty, and bravery the
sooner the better."
" I think the subject of our conversation is very
ill-chosen," said Sir James, with a look of disgust.
" Suppose we change it."
" Not on my account, Sir James," said Dorothea,
determined not to lose the opportunity of freeing
herself from certain oblique references to excellent
matches. " If you are speaking on my behalf, I
can assure you that no question can be more in-
different and impersonal to me than second mar-
riage. It is no more to me than if you talked of
women going fox-hunting : whether it is admira-
ble in them or not, I shall not follow them. Pray
let Mrs C ad wallader amuse herself on that subject
as much as on any other."
" My dear Mrs Casaubon," said Lady Chettam,
in her stateliest way, " you do not, I hope, think
there was any allusion to you in my mentioning
Mrs Beevor. It was only an instance that occurred
to me. She was step-daughter to Lord Grinsell :
he married Mrs Teveroy for his second wife. There
could be no possible allusion to you."
"Oh no," said Celia. "Nobody chose the subject ;
it all came out of Dodo's cap. Mrs Cadwallader
only said what was quite true. A woman could
not be married in a widow's cap, James."
"Hush, my dear!" said Mrs Cadwallader. "I.
will not offend again. I will not even refer to Dido
or Zenobia. Only what are we to talk about?
I, for my part, object to the discussion of Human
Nature, because that is the nature of rectors' wives,"
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 243
Later in the evening, after Mrs Cadwallader was
gone, Celia said privately to Dorothea, "Really,
Dodo, taking your cap off made you like yourself
again in more ways than one. You spoke up just
as you used to do, when anything was said to dis-
please you. But I could hardly make out whether
it was James that you thought wrong, or Mrs Cad-
" Neither/' said Dorothea. " James spoke out
of delicacy to me, but he was mistaken in suppos-
ing that I minded what Mrs Cadwallader said.
I should only mind if there were a law obliging
me to take any piece of blood and beauty that she
or anybody else recommended."
" But you know, Dodo, if you ever did marry, it
would be all the better to have blood and beauty,'*
said Celia, reflecting that Mr Casaubon had not
been richly endowed with those gifts, and that it
would be well to caution Dorothea in time.
" Don't be anxious, Kitty ; I have quite other
thoughts about my life. I shall never marry
again," said Dorothea, touching her sister's chin,
and looking at her with indulgent affection. Celia
was nursing her baby, and Dorothea had come to
say good-night to her.
" Eeally quite ? " said Celia. " Not anybody at
all if he were very wonderful indeed ? "
Dorothea shook her head slowly. " Not anybody
at all. I have delightful plans. I should like to
take a great deal of land, and drain it, and make a
little colony, where everybody should work, and
all the work should be done well. I should know
every one of the people, and be their friend. I am
going to have great consultations with Mr Garth :
he can tell me almost everything I want to know."
" Then you will be happy, if you have a plan,
Dodo," said Celia. " Perhaps little Arthur will like
plans when he grows up, and then he can help you."
Sir James was informed that same night that
Dorothea was really quite set against marrying
anybody at all, and was going to take to " all sorts
of plans," just like what she used to have. Sir
James made no remark. To his secret feeling,
there was something repulsive in a woman's second
marriage, and no match would prevent him from
feeling it a sort of desecration for Dorothea. He
was aware that the world would regard such a sen-
timent as preposterous, especially in relation to a
woman of one-and-twenty ; the practice of "the
world " being to treat of a young widow's second
marriage as certain and probably near, and to smile
with meaning if the widow acts accordingly. But
if Dorothea did choose to espouse her solitude, he
felt that the resolution would well become her.
" How happy is he born and tanght
That serveth not another's will ;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his only skill !
This man is freed from servile bands
Of hope to rise, or fear to fall ;
Lord of himself, though not of lands ;
And having nothing, yet hath all."
SIR HENKY WOTTON.
DOEOTHEA'S confidence in Caleb Garth's know-
ledge, which had -begun on her hearing that he
approved of her cottages, had grown fast during her
stay at Freshitt, Sir James having induced her
to take rides over the two estates in company with
himself and Caleb, who quite returned her admira-
tion, and told his wife that Mrs Casaubon had a
head for business most uncommon in a woman.
It must be remembered that by " business " Caleb
never -meant money transactions, but the skilful
application of labour.
" Most uncommon !" repeated Caleb. " She said
a thing I often used to think myself when I was a
VOL. III. P
lad: ' Mr Garth, I should like to feel, if I lived
to be old, that T had improved a great piece of land
and built a great many good cottages, because the
work is of a healthy kind while it is being done,
and after it is done, men are the better for it.'
Those were the very words : she sees into things
in that way."
" But womanly, I hope," said Mrs Garth, half
suspecting that Mrs Casaubon might not hold the
true principle of subordination.
" Oh, you can't think ! " said Caleb, shaking his
head. " You would like to hear her speak, Susan.
She speaks in such plain words, and a voice like
music. Bless me ! it reminds me of bits in the
'Messiah' 'and straightway there appeared a mul-
titude of the heavenly host, praising God and say-
ing ; ' it has a tone with it that satisfies your ear."
Caleb was very fond of music, and when he could
afford it went to hear an oratorio that came within
his reach, returning from it with a profound reve-
rence for this mighty structure of tones, which made
him sit meditatively, looking on the floor and
throwing much unutterable language into his out-
stretched hands. .
With this good understanding between them, it
was natural that Dorothea asked Mr Garth to
undertake any business connected with the three
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 2^7
farms and the numerous tenements attached to
Lowick Manor ; indeed, his expectation of getting
work for two was being fast fulfilled. As he said,
"Business breeds." And one form of business
which was beginning to breed just then was the
construction of railways. A projected line was to
run through Lowick parish where the cattle had
hitherto grazed in a peace unbroken by astonish-
ment; and thus it happened that the infant
struggles of the railway system entered into the
affairs of Caleb Garth, and determined the course
of this history with regard to two persons who
were dear to him.
The submarine railway may have its difficulties ;
but the bed of the sea is not divided among various
landed proprietors with claims for damages not
only measurable but sentimental. In the hundred
to which Middlemarch belonged railways were as
exciting a topic as the Eeform Bill or the imminent
horrors of Cholera, and those who held the most
decided views on the subject were women and land-
holders. Women both old and young regarded
travelling by steam as presumptuous and danger-
ous, and argued against it by saying that nothing
should induce them to get into a railway carriage ;
while proprietors, differing from each other in
their arguments as much as Mr Solomon Tea-
therstone differed from Lord Medlicote, were yet
unanimous in the opinion that in selling land,
whether to the Enemy of mankind or to a com-
pany obliged to purchase, these pernicious agencies
must be made to pay a very high price to land-
owners for permission to injure mankind.
But the slower wits, such as Mr Solomon and
Mrs Waule, who both occupied land of their own,
took a long time to arrive at this conclusion, their
minds halting at the vivid conception of what it
would be to cut the Big Pasture in two, and turn
it into three - cornered bits, which would be
" nohow ; " while accommodation-bridges and high
payments were remote and incredible.
" The cows will all cast their calves, brother,"
said Mrs Waule, in a tone of deep melancholy,
"if the railway comes across the Near Close ; and
I shouldn't wonder at the mare too, if she was in
foaL It's a poor tale if a widow's property is to
be spaded away, and the law say nothing to it.
What's to hinder 'em from cutting right and left
if they begin ? It's well known, I can't fight."
" The best way would be to say nothing, and
set somebody on to send 'em away with a flea in
their ear, when they came spying and measuring,"
said Solomon. "Folks did that about Brassing,
by what I can understand. It's all a pretence, if
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 229
the truth was known, about their being forced to
take one way. Let "em go cutting in another
parish. And I don't believe in any pay to make
amends for bringing a lot of ruffians to trample
your crops. Where's a company's pocket ? "
" Brother Peter, God forgive him, got money out
of a company," said Mrs Waule. " But that was
for the manganese. That wasn't for railways to
blow you to pieces right and left."
"Well, there's this to be said, Jane," Mr Solo-
mon concluded, lowering his voice in a cautious
manner " the more spokes we put in their wheel,
the more they'll pay us to let 'em go on, if they
must come whether or not/'
This reasoning of Mr Solomon's was perhaps
less thorough than he imagined, his cunning
bearing about the same relation to the course of
railways as the cunning of a diplomatist bears to
the general chill or catarrh of the solar system.
But he set about acting on his views in a
thoroughly diplomatic manner, by stimulating
suspicion. His side of Lowick was the most
remote from the village, and the houses of the
labouring people were either lone cottages or were
collected in a hamlet called Frick, where a water-
mill and some stone-pits made a little centre of
slow, heavy-shouldered industry.
In the absence of any precise idea as to what
railways were, public opinion in Frick was against
them ; for the human mind in that grassy corner
had not the proverbial tendency to admire the
unknown, holding rather that it was likely to be
against the poor man, and that suspicion was the
only wise attitude with regard to it. Even the
rumour of Keform had not yet excited any mil-
lennial expectations in Frick, there being no
definite promise in it, as of gratuitous grains to
fatten Hiram Ford's pig, or of a publican at the
" Weights and Scales " who would brew beer for
nothing, or of an offer on the part of the three
neighbouring farmers to raise wages during win-
ter. And without distinct good' of this kind
in its promises, Eeform seemed on a footing with
the bragging of pedlars, which was a hint for
distrust to every knowing person. The men of
Frick were not ill-fed, and were less given to
fanaticism than to a strong muscular suspicion;
less inclined to believe that they were peculiarly
cared for by heaven, than to regard heaven itself
as rather disposed to take them in a disposition
observable in the weather.
Thus the mind of Frick was exactly of the sort
for Mr Solomon Featherstone to work upon, he
having more plenteous ideas of the same order,
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 231
with a suspicion of heaven and earth which was
better fed and more entirely at leisure. Solomon
was overseer of the roads at that time, and on his
slow-paced cob often took his rounds by Frick to
look at the workmen getting the stones there,
pausing with a mysterious deliberation, which
might have misled you into supposing that he
had some other reason for staying than the mere
want of impulse to move. After looking for a
long while at any work that was going on, he
would raise his eyes a little and look at the
horizon ; finally he would shake his bridle, touch
his horse with the whip, and get it to move
slowly onward. The hour-hand of a clock was
quick by comparison with Mr Solomon, who had
an agreeable sense that he could afford to be
slow. He was in the habit of pausing for a
cautious, vaguely - designing chat with every
hedger or ditcher on his way, and was especially
willing to listen even to news which he had heard
before, feeling himself at an advantage over all
narrators in partially disbelieving them. One
day, however, he got into a dialogue with Hiram
Ford, a waggoner, in which he himself contri-
buted information. He wished to know whether
Hiram had seen fellows with staves and instru-
ments spying about : they called themselves
railroad people, but there was no telling what
they were, or what they meant to do. The least
they pretended was that they were going to cut
Lowick Parish into sixes and sevens.
" Why, there'll be no stirrin' from one pla-ace
to another," said Hiram, thinking of his waggon
"Not a bit," said Mr Solomon. "And cutting
up fine land such as this parish! Let 'em go
into Tipton, say I. But there's no knowing what
there is at the bottom of it. Traffick is what
they put for'ard ; but it's to do harm to the land
and the poor man in the long-run."
"Why, they're Lunnon chaps, I reckon," said
Hiram, who had a dim notion of London as a
centre of hostility to the country.
"Ay, to be sure. And in some parts against
Brassing, by what I've heard say, the folks fell
on 'em w^hen they were spying, and broke their
peep-holes as they carry, and drove 'em away, so
as they knew better than come again."
" It war good foon, I'd be bound," said Hiram,
whose fun was much restricted by circumstances.
"Well, I wouldn't meddle with 'em myself,"
said Solomon. " But some say this country's
seen its best days, and the sign is, as it's being
overrun with these fellows trampling right and
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 233
left, and wanting to cut it up into railways ; and
all for the big traffic to swallow up the little, so as
there shan't be a team left on the land, nor a
whip to crack."
"I'll crack my whip about their ear'n, afore
they bring it to that, though," said Hiram, while
Mr Solomon, shaking his bridle, moved onward.
Nettle-seed needs no digging. The ruin of
this country-side by railroads was discussed, not
only at the " Weights and Scales," but in the hay-
field, where the muster of working hands gave
opportunities for talk such as were rarely had
through the rural year.
One morning, not long after that interview
between Mr Farebrother and Mary Garth, in
which she confessed to him her feeling for Fred
Vincy, it happened that her father had some
business which took him to YoddrelTs farm in
the direction of Frick: it was to measure and
value an outlying piece of land belonging to
Lowick Manor, which Caleb expected to dispose
of advantageously for Dorothea (it must be con-
fessed that his bias was towards getting the best
possible terms from railroad companies). He
put up his gig at Yoddrell's, and in walking with
his assistant and measuring-chain to the scene of
his work, he encountered the party of the com-
pany's agents, who were adjusting their spirit-
level. After a little chat he left them, observing
that by -and -by they would reach him again
where he was going to measure. It was one of
those grey mornings after light rains, which be-
come delicious about twelve o'clock, when the
clouds part a little, and the scent of the earth is
sweet along the lanes and by the hedgerows.
The scent would have been sweeter to Fred
Vincy, who was coming along the lanes on horse-
back, if his mind had not been worried by unsuc-
cessful efforts to imagine what he was to do, with
his father on one side expecting him straight-
way to enter the Church, with Mary on the other
threatening to forsake him if he did enter it, and
with the working -day world showing no eager
need whatever of a young gentleman without
capital and generally unskilled. It was the harder
to Fred's disposition because his father, satisfied
that he was no longer rebellious, was in good
humour with him, and had sent him on this pleas-
ant ride to see after some greyhounds. Even
when he had fixed on what he should do, there
would be the task of telling his father. But it
must be admitted that the fixing, which had to come
first, was the more difficult task : what secular
avocation on earth was there for a young man
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 235
(whose friends could not get him an "appoint-
ment ") which was at once gentlemanly, lucrative,
and to be followed without special knowledge?
Eiding along the lanes by Frick in this mood, and
slackening his pace while he reflected whether he
should venture to go round by Lowick Parsonage to
call on Mary, he could see over the hedges from one
field to another. Suddenly a noise roused his atten-
tion, and on the far side of a field on his left hand he
could see six or seven men in smock-frocks with
hay-forks in their hands making an offensive ap-
proach towards the four railway agents who were
facing them, while Caleb Garth and his assistant
were hastening across the field to join the threat-
ened group. Fred, delayed a few moments by hav-
ing to find the gate, could not gallop up to the spot
before the party in smock-frocks, whose work of
turning the hay had not been too pressing after
swallowing their mid-day beer, were driving the
men in coats before them with their hay- forks;
while Caleb Garth's assistant, a lad of seventeen,
who had snatched up the spirit-level at Caleb's
order, had been knocked down and seemed to be
lying helpless. The coated men had the advan-
tage as runners, and Fred covered their retreat by
getting in front of the smock-frocks and charging
them suddenly enough to throw their chase into
confusion. "What do you confounded fools
mean ?" shouted Fred, pursuing the divided group
in a zigzag, and cutting right and left with his
whip. " I'll swear to every one of you before the
magistrate. You've knocked the lad down and
killed him, for what I know. You'll every one of
you "be hanged at the next assizes, if you don't
mind," said Fred, who afterwards laughed heartily
as he remembered his own phrases.
The labourers had been driven through the gate-
way into their hay-field, and Fred had checked his
horse, when Hiram Ford, observing himself at a
safe challenging; distance, turned back and shouted
a defiance which he did not know to be Homeric.
" Yo're a coward, yo are. Yo git off your horse,
young measter, and I'll have a round wi' ye, I
wull. Yo daredn't come on wi'out your hoss an'
whip. I'd soon knock the breath out on ye, I
" Wait a minute, and I'll come back presently,
and have a round with you all in turn, if you
like," said Fred, who felt confidence in his power
of boxing with his dearly-beloved brethren. But
just now he wanted to hasten back to Caleb and
the prostrate youth.
The lad's ankle was strained, and he was in
much pain from it, but he was no further hurt,
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 237
and Fred placed him on the horse that he might
ride to Yoddrell's and be taken care of there.
" Let them put the horse in the stable, and tell
the surveyors they can come back for their traps,"
said Fred. " The ground is, clear now."
"No, no," said Caleb, "here's a breakage.
They'll have to give up for to-day, and it will be
as well. Here, take the things before you on the
horse, Tom. They'll see you coming, and they'll
" I'm glad I happened to be here at the right
moment, Mr Garth," said Fred, as Tom rode away.
"No knowing what might have happened if the
cavalry had not come up in time."
"Ay, ay, it was lucky," said Caleb, speaking
rather absently, and looking towards the spot
where he had been at work at the moment of
interruption. " But deuce take it this is what
comes of men being fools I'm hindered of my
day's work. I can't get along without somebody
to help me with the measuring-chain. However !"
He was beginning to move towards the spot with
a look of vexation, as if he had forgotten Fred's
presence, but suddenly he turned round and said
quickly, " What have you got to do to-day, young
" Nothing, Mr Garth. I'll help you with plea-
sure can I?" said Fred, with a sense that he
should be courting Mary when he was helping her
" Well, you mustn't mind stooping and getting
"I don't mind anything. Only I want to go
first and have a round with that hulky fellow who
turned to challenge me. It would be a good lesson
for him. I shall not be five minutes."
" Nonsense !" said Caleb, with his most peremp-
tory intonation. "I shall go and speak to the
men myself. It's all ignorance. Somebody has
been telling them lies. The poor fools don't know
" I shall go with you, then," said Fred.
"No, no; stay where you are. I don't want
your young blood. I can take care of myself."
Caleb was a powerful man and knew little of any
fear except the fear of hurting others and the fear
of having to speechify. But he felt it his duty at
this moment to try and give a little harangue.
There was a striking mixture in him which came
from his having always been a hard-working man
himself of rigorous notions about workmen and
practical indulgence towards them. To do a good
day's work and to do it well, he held to be part of
their welfare, as it was the chief part of his own
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 239
happiness ; but lie had a strong sense of fellow-
ship with them. When he advanced towards the
labourers they had not gone to work again, but
were standing in that form of rural grouping
which consists in each turning a shoulder towards
the other, at a distance of two or three yards.
They looked rather sulkily at Caleb, who walked
quickly with one hand in his pocket and the other
thrust between the buttons of his waistcoat, and
had his everyday mild air when he paused among
" Why, my lads, how's this ?" he began, taking
as usual to brief phrases, which seemed pregnant
to himself, because he had many thoughts lying
under them, like the abundant roots of a plant
that just manages to peep above the water. "How
came you to make such a mistake as this ? Some-
body has been telling you lies. You thought those
men up there wanted to do mischief."
" Aw ! " was the answer, dropped at intervals
by each according to his degree of unreadiness.
" Nonsense ! No such thing ! They're looking
out to see which way the railroad is to take.
Now, my lads, you can't hinder the railroad : it will
be made whether you like it or not. ' And if you
go fighting against it, you'll get yourselves into
trouble. The law gives those men leave to come
here on the land. The owner has nothing to say
against it, and if you meddle with them you'll have
to do with the constable and Justice Blakesley,
and with the handcuffs and Middlemarch jail
And you might be in for it now, if anybody in-
formed against you."
Caleb paused here, and perhaps the greatest
orator could not have chosen either his pause or
his images better for the occasion.
" But come, you didn't mean any harm. Some-
body told you the railroad was a bad thing. That
was a 'lie. It may do a bit of harm here and
there, to this and to that ; and so does the sun in
heaven. But the railway's a good thing."
" Aw ! good for the big folks to make money out
on," said old Timothy Cooper, who had stayed
behind turning his hay while the others had been
gone on their spree ; " I'n seen lots o' things turn
up sin* I war a young un the war an' the peace,
and the canells, an* the oald King George, an' the
Eegen', an' the new King George, an' the new un
as has got a new ne-ame an' it's been all aloike to
the poor mon. What's the canells been t' him ?
They 'n brought him neyther ine-at nor be-acon,
nor wage to lay by, if he didn't save it wi' clem-
min' his own inside. Times ha' got wusser for
him sin' I war a young un. An' so it'll be wi' the
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 241
railroads. They'll on'y leave the poor mon furder
behind. But them are fools as meddle, and so I
told the chaps here. This is the big folks's world,
this is. But yo're for the big folks, Muster Garth,
Timothy was a wiry old labourer, of a type
lingering in those times who had his savings in
a stocking-foot, lived in a lone cottage, and was
not to be wrought on by any oratory, having as
little of the feudal spirit, and believing as little, as
if he had not been totally unacquainted with the
Age of Eeason and the Eights of Man. Caleb
was in a difficulty known to any person attempt-
ing in dark times and unassisted by miracle to
reason with rustics, who are in possession of an
undeniable truth which they know through a
hard process of feeling, and can let it fall like a
giant's club on your neatly-carved argument for a
social benefit which they do not feel. Caleb had
no cant at command, even if he could have chosen
to use it ; and he had been accustomed to meet all
such difficulties in no other way than by doing
his " business " faithfully. He answered
" If you don't think well of me, Tim, never
mind ; that's neither here nor there now. Things
may be bad for the poor man bad they are ; but
I want the lads here not to do what will make
VOL. III. Q
things worse for themselves. The cattle may
have a heavy load, but it won't help 'em to throw
it over into the roadside pit, when it's partly
their own fodder."
" We war on'y for a bit o' foon," said Hiram,
who was beginning to see consequences. " That
war all we war arter."
" Well, promise me not to meddle again, and I'll
see that nobody informs against you."
" TIL ne'er meddled, an' I'n no call to promise,"
" No, but the rest. Come, I'm as hard at work
as any of you to-day, and I can't spare much time.
Say you'll be quiet without the constable."
" Aw, we wooant meddle they may do as they
loike for oos" were the forms in which Caleb
got his pledges; and then he hastened back to
Fred, who had followed him, and watched him in
They went to work, and Fred helped vigorously.
His spirits had risen, and he heartily enjoyed a
good slip in the moist earth under the hedgerow,
which soiled his perfect summer trousers. Was
it his successful onset which had elated him, or
the satisfaction of helping Mary's father ? Some-
thing more. The accidents of the morning had
helped his frustrated imagination to shape an
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 243
employment for himself which had several at-
tractions. I am not sure that certain fibres
in Mr Garth's mind had not resumed their old
vibration towards the very end which now revealed
itself to Fred. For the effective accident is but
the touch of fire wh^re"tEefe~is~oiFan(r tow ; and
it always appeared to Fred that the railway brought
the needed touch. But they went on in silence
except when their business demanded speech. At
last, when they had finished and were walking
away, Mr Garth said
" A young fellow needn't be a B. A. to do this sort
of work, eh, Fred?"
" I wish I had taken to it before I had thought
of being a B.A.," said Fred. He paused a mo-
ment, and then added, more hesitatingly, "Do
you think I am too old to learn your business,
" My business is of many sorts, my boy," said
Mr Garth, smiling. " A good deal of what I know
can only come from experience : you can't learn
it off as you learn things out of a book. But
you are young enough to lay a foundation yet."
Caleb pronounced the last sentence emphatically,
but paused in some uncertainty. He had been
under the impression lately that Fred had made
up his mind to enter the Church.
" You do think I could do some good at it, if I
were to try ? " said Fred, more eagerly.
"That depends," said Caleb, turning his head
on one side and lowering his voice, with the air of
a man who felt himself to be saying something
deeply religious. "You must be sure of two
things": you^jnust -Jove _your work, and not Jbe
always looking over the edge of it, wanting your
play to begin. And the other is, you must not be
ashamed of your work, and think it would be more
honourable to you to be doing something else.
You must have a pride in your own work and in
learning to do it well, and not be always saying,
There's this and there's that if I had this or that
to do, I might make something of it. No matter
what a man is I wouldn't give twopence for him"
here Caleb's mouth looked bitter, and he snap-
ped his fingers " whether he was the prime min-
ister or the rick-thatcher, if he didn't do well what
he undertook to do."
" I can never feel that I should do that in
being a clergyman," said Fred, meaning to take a
step in argument.
" Then let it alone, my boy," said Caleb, abruptly,
" else you'll never be easy. Or, if you are easy,
you'll be a poor stick."
" That is very nearly what Mary thinks about
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 245
it," said Fred, colouring. "I think you must
know what I feel for Mary, Mr Garth : I hope it
does not displease you that I have always loved her
better than any one else, and that I shall never
love any one as I love her."
The expression of Caleb's face was visibly soft-
ening while Fred spoke. But he swung his head
with a solemn slowness, and said
" That makes things more serious, Fred, if
you want to take Mary's happiness into your
"I know that, Mr Garth," said Fred, eagerly,
"and I would do anything for her. She says
she will never have me if I go into the Church ;
and I shall be the most miserable devil in the
world if I lose all hope of Mary. Really, if I
could get some other profession, business any-
thing that I am at all fit for, I would work hard, I
would deserve your good opinion. I should like
to have to do with outdoor things. I know a
good deal about land and cattle already. I used to
believe, you know though you will think me
rather foolish for it that I should have land o'f
my own. I am sure knowledge of that sort
would come easily to me, especially if I could be
under you in any way."
" Softly, my boy," said Caleb, having the image
of " Susan " before his eyes. " What have you
said to your father about all this ? "
"Nothing, yet; but I must tell him. I am
only waiting to know what I can do instead of
entering the Church. I am very sorry to dis-
appoint him, but a man ought to be allowed to
judge, for himself when he is four-and-twenty.
How could I know, when I was fifteen, what it
would be right for me to do now ? My education
was a mistake."
" But hearken to this, Fred," said Caleb. " Are
you sure Mary is fond of you, or would ever have
" I asked Mr Farebrother to talk to her, because
she had forbidden me I didn't know what else
to do," said Fred, apologetically. " And he says
that I have every reason to hope, if I can put my-
self in an honourable position I mean, out of the
Church. I daresay you think it unwarrantable
in me, Mr Garth, to be troubling you and obtrud-
ing my own wishes about Mary, before I have
done anything at all for myself. Of course I have
not the least claim indeed, I have already a
debt to you which will never be discharged, even
when I have been able to pay it in the shape of
" Yes, my boy, you have a claim," said Caleb,
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 247
with much feeling in his voice. " The young ones
have always a claim on the old to help them for-
ward. I was young myself once and had to do
without much help ; but help would have been
welcome to me, if it had been only for the fellow-
feeling's sake. But I must consider. Come to
me to-morrow at the office, at nine o'clock. At
the office, mind."
Mr Garth would take no important step with-
out consulting Susan, but it must be confessed
that before he reached home he had taken his
resolution. With regard to a large number of
matters about which other men are decided or
obstinate, he was the most easily manageable man
in the world. He never knew what meat he would
choose, and if Susan had said that they ought to
live in a four-roomed cottage in order to save, he
would have said, " Let us go," without inquiring
into details. But where Caleb's feeling and judg-
ment strongly pronounced* he was a ruler; and in
spite of his mildness and timidity in reproving,
every one about him knew that on the exceptional
occasions when he chose, he was absolute. He
never, indeed, chose to be absolute except on some
one else's behalf. On ninety -nine points Mrs
Garth decided, but on the hundredth she was
often aware that she would have to perform the
singularly difficult task of carrying out her own
principle, and to make herself subordinate.
" It is come round as I thought, Susan," said
Caleb, when they were seated alone in the even-
ing. He had already narrated the adventure
which had brought about Fred's sharing in his
work, but had kept back the further result. " The
children are fond of each other I mean, Fred
Mrs Garth laid her work on her knee, and fixed
her penetrating eyes anxiously on her husband.
" After we'd done our work, Fred poured it all
out to me. He can't bear to be a clergyman, and
Mary says she won't have him if he is one ; and
the lad would like to be under me and give his
mind to business. And I've determined to take
him and make a man of him."
" Caleb ! " said Mrs Garth, in a deep contralto,
expressive of resigned astonishment.
" It's a fine thing to do," said Mr Garth, settling
himself firmly against the back of his chair, and
grasping the elbows. " I shall have trouble with
him, but I think I shall carry it through. The
lad loves Mary, and a true love for a good woman
is a great thing, Susan. It shapes many a rough
"Has Mary spoken to you on the subject?"
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 249
said Mrs Garth, secretly a little hurt that she had
to be informed on it herself.
" Not a word. I asked her about Fred once ; I
gave her a bit of a warning. But she assured me
she would never marry an idle, self-indulgent
man nothing since. But it seems Fred set on
Mr Farebrother to talk to her, because she had
forbidden him to speak himself, and Mr Fare-
brother has found out that she's fond of Fred, but
says he must not be a clergyman. Fred's heart
is fixed on Mary, that I can see : it gives me a
good opinion of the lad and we always liked him,
" It is a pity for Mary, I think/' said Mrs Garth.
"Why a pity?"
" Because, Caleb, she might have had a man
who is worth twenty Fred Vincys."
" Ah ? " said Caleb, with surprise.
" I firmly believe that Mr Farebrother is attach-
ed to her, and meant to make her an offer ; but of
course, now that Fred IL.S used him as an envoy,
there is an end to that better prospect'." There
was a severe precision in Mrs Garth's utterance.
She was vexed and disappointed, but she was
bent on abstaining from useless words.
Caleb was silent a few moments under a conflict
of feelings. He looked at the floor and moved his
head and hands in accompaniment to some inward
argumentation. At last he said
" That would have made me very proud and
happy, Susan, and I should have been glad for
your sake. I've always felt that your belongings
have never been on a level with you. But you
took me, though I was a plain man."
" I took the best and cleverest man I had ever
known," said Mrs Garth, convinced that she would
never have loved any one who came short of that
" Well, perhaps others thought you might have
done better. But it would have been worse for
me. And that is what touches me close about
Fred. The lad is good at bottom, and clever
enough to do, if he's put in the right way ; and he
loves and honours my daughter beyond anything,
and she has given him a sort of promise according
to what he turns out. I say, that young man's
soul is in my hand ; and 111 do the best I can for
him, so help me God ! It's my duty, Susan."
Mrs Garth was not given to tears, but there was
a large one rolling down her face before her hus-
band had finished. It came from the pressure of
various feelings, in which there was much affec-
tion and some vexation. She wiped it away
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 251
" Few men besides you would think it a duty
to add to their anxieties in that way, Caleb."
" That signifies nothing what other men would
think. I've got a clear feeling inside me, and that
I shall follow; and I hope your heart will go with
me, Susan, in making everything as light as can
be to Mary, poor child."
Caleb, leaning back in his chair, looked with anxi-
ous appeal towards his wife. She rose and kissed
him, saying, " God bless you, Caleb ! Our children
have a good father."
But she went out and had a hearty cry to make up
for the suppression of her words. She felt sure that
her husband's conduct would be misunderstood,
and about Fred she was rational and unhopeful.
Which would turn out to have the more foresight
in it her rationality or Caleb's ardent generosity ?
When Fred went to the office the next morning,
there was a test to be gone through which he was
not prepared for.
" Now Fred," said Caleb, " you will have some
desk- work. I have always done a good -deal of
writing myself, but I can't do without help, and
as I want you to understand the accounts and get
the values into your head, I mean to do without
another clerk. So you must buckle to. How are
you at writing and arithmetic ? "
Fred felt an awkward movement of the heart ;
he had not thought of desk-work ; but he was in a
resolute mood, and not going to shrink. " I'm not
afraid of arithmetic, Mr Garth : it always came
easily to me. I think you know my writing."
"Let us see," said Caleb, taking up a pen, examin-
ing it carefully and handing it, well dipped, to Fred
with a sheet of ruled paper. " Copy me a line or
two of that valuation, with the figures at the end."
At that time the opinion existed that it was
beneath a gentleman to write legibly, or with a
hand in the least suitable to a clerk. Fred wrote
the lines demanded in a hand as gentlemanly as
that of any viscount or bishop of the day : the
vowels were all alike and the consonants only
distinguishable as turning up or down, the strokes
had a blotty solidity and the letters disdained to
keep the line in short, it was a manuscript of that
venerable kind easy to interpret when you know
beforehand what the writer means.
As Caleb looked on, his visage showed a growing
depression, but when Fred handed him the paper
he gave something like a snarl, and rapped the
paper passionately with the back of his hand. Bad
work like this dispelled all Caleb's mildness.
"The deuce! "he exclaimed, snarlingly. "To
think that this is a country where a man's educa-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 253
tion may cost hundreds and hundreds, and it turns
you out this !" Then in a more pathetic tone, push-
ing up his spectacles and looking at the unfortunate
scribe, "The Lord have mercy on us, Fred, I can't
put up with this ! "
"What can I do, Mr Garth?" said Fred, whose
spirits had sunk very low, not only at the estimate
of his handwriting, but at the vision of himself as
liable to be ranked with office-clerks.
" Do ? Why, you must learn to form your letters
and keep the line. What's the use of writing at all
if nobody can understand it?" asked Caleb, ener-
getically, quite preoccupied with the bad quality of
the work. " Is there so little business in the world
that you must be sending puzzles over the country ?
But that's the way people are brought up. I should
lose no end of time with the letters some people
send me, if Susan didn't make them out for me. It's
disgusting." Here Caleb tossed the paper from him.
Any stranger peeping into the office at that mo-
ment might have wondered what was the drama be-
tween the indignant man of business, and the fine-
looking young fellow whose blond complexion was
getting rather patchy as he bit his lip with morti-
fication. Fred was struggling with many thoughts.
Mr Garth had been so kind and encouraging at
the beginning of their interview, that gratitude and
hopefulness had been at a high pitch, and the
downfall was proportionate. He had not thought
of desk-work in fact, like the majority of young
gentlemen, he wanted an occupation which should
be free from disagreeables. I cannot tell what
might have been the consequences if he had not
distinctly promised himself that he would go to
Lowick to see Mary and tell her that he was
engaged to work under her father. He did not
like to disappoint himself there.
" I am very sorry," were all the words that he
could muster. But Mr Garth was already relenting.
" We must make the best of it, Fred/' he began,
with a return to his usual quiet tone. " Every man
can learn to write. I taught myself. Go at it
with a will, and sit up at night, if the day-time
isn't enough. Well be patient, my boy. Callum
shall go on with the books for a bit, while you are
learning. But now I must be off," said Caleb,
rising. " You must let your father know our agree-
ment. You'll save me Callum's salary, you know,
when you can write ; and I can afford to give you
eighty pounds for the first year, and more after."
When Fred made the necessary disclosure to his
parents, the relative effect on the two was a sur-
prise which entered very deeply into his memory.
He went straight from Mr Garth's office to the
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 255
warehouse, rightly feeling that the most respectful
way in which he could behave to his father, was
to make the painful communication as gravely and
formally as possible. Moreover, the decision would
be more certainly understood to be final, if the
interview took place in his father's gravest hours,
which were always those spent in his private room
at the warehouse.
Fred entered on the subject directly, and declared
briefly what he had done and was resolved to do,
expressing at the end his regret that he should be
the cause of disappointment to his father, and
taking the blame on his own deficiencies. The
regret was genuine, and inspired Fred with strong,
Mr Vincy listened in profound surprise with-
out uttering even an exclamation, a silence which
in his impatient temperament was a sign of unusual
emotion. He had not been in good spirits about
trade that morning, and the slight bitterness in his
lips grew intense as he listened. When Fred had
ended, there was a pause of nearly a minute, during
which Mr Vincy replaced a book in his desk and
turned the key emphatically. Then he looked at
his son steadily, and said
"So you've made up your mind at last, sir?"
" Yes, father/'
" Very well ; stick to it. I've no more to say.
You've thrown away your education, and gone
down a step in life, when I had given you the
means of rising, that's all."
"I am very sorry that we differ, father. I think
I can be quite as much of a gentleman at the work
I have -undertaken, as if I had been a curate. But
I am grateful to you for wishing to do the best
" Very well ; I have no more to say. I wash
my hands of you. I only hope, when you have a
son of your own he will make a better return for
the pains you spend on him."
This was very cutting to Fred. His father was
using that unfair advantage possessed by us all
when we are in a pathetic situation and see our
own past as if it were simply part of the pathos.
In reality, Mr Vincy's wishes about his son had
had a great deal of pride, inconsiderateness, and
egoistic folly in them. But still the disappointed
father held a strong lever ; and Fred felt as if he
were being banished with a malediction.
" I hope you will not object to my remaining at
home, sir?" he said, after rising to go; "I shall
have a sufficient salary to pay for my board, as of
course I should wish to do."
" Board be hanged ! " said Mr Vincy, recovering
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 257
himself in his disgust at the notion that Fred's
keep would be missed at his table. " Of course
your mother will want you to stay. But I shall
keep no horse for you, you understand ; and you
will pay your own tailor. You will do with a
suit or two less, I fancy, when you have to pay
Fred lingered ; there was still something to be
said. At last it came.
" I hope you will shake hands with me, father,
and forgive me the vexation I have caused you."
Mr Yincy from his chair threw a quick glance
upward at his son, who had advanced near to him,
and then gave his hand, saying hurriedly, " Yes,
yes, let us say no more/'
Fred went through much more narrative and
explanation with his mother, but she was incon-
solable, having before her eyes what perhaps her
husband had never thought of, the certainty that
Fred would marry Mary Garth, that her life would
henceforth be spoiled by a perpetual infusion of
Garths and their ways, and that her darling boy,
with his beautiful face and stylish air "beyond
anybody else's son in Middlemarch," would be
sure to get like that family in plainness of appear-
ance and carelessness about his clothes. To her it
seemed that there was a Garth conspiracy to get
VOL. m. K
possession of the desirable Fred, but she dared not
enlarge on this opinion, because a slight hint of it
had made him "fly out" at her as he had never done
before. Her temper was too sweet for her to show
any anger; but she felt that her happiness had
received a bruise, and for several days merely
to look at Fred made her cry a little as if he were
the subject of some baleful prophecy. Perhaps
she was the slower to recover her usual cheerful-
ness because Fred had warned her that she must
not reopen the sore question with his father, who
had accepted his decision and forgiven him. If
her husband had been vehement against Fred, she
would have been urged into defence of her dar-
ling. It was the end of the fourth day when Mr
Vincy said to her
"Come, Lucy, my dear, don't be so down-hearted.
You always have spoiled the boy, and you must
go on spoiling him."
" Nothing ever did cut me so before, Vincy,"
said the wife, her fair throat and chin beginning to
tremble again, " only his illness."
" Pooh, pooh, never mind ! We must expect to
have trouble with our children. Don't make it
worse by letting me see you out of spirits."
" Well, I won't," said Mrs Vincy, roused by this
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 259
appeal, and adjusting herself with a little shake as
of a bird which lays down its ruffled plumage.
" It won't do to begin making a fuss about one,"
said Mr Vincy, wishing to combine a little grum-
bling with domestic cheerfulness. " There's Rosa-
mond as well as Fred."
" Yes, poor thing. I'm sure I felt for her being
disappointed of her baby; but she got over it
" Baby, pooh ! I can see Lydgate is making a
mess of his practice, and getting into debt too, by
what I hear. I shall have Rosamond coming to
me with a pretty tale one of these days. But
they'll get no money from me, I know. Let his
family help him. I never did like that marriage.
But it's no use talking. Ring the bell for lemons,
and don't look dull any more, Lucy. I'll drive
you and Louisa to Riverston to-morrow."
They numbered scarce eight summers when a name
Rose on their souls and stirred such motions there
As thrill the buds and shape their hidden frame
At penetration of the quickening air :
His name who told of loyal Evan Dhu,
Of quaint Bradwardine, and Vich Ian Vor,
Making the little world their childhood knew
Large with a land of mountain, lake, and scaur,
And larger yet with wonder, love, belief
Toward Walter Scott, who living far away
Sent them this wealth of joy and noble grief.
The book and they must part, but day by day,
In lines that thwart like portly spiders ran,
They wrote the tale, from Tully Veolan.
THE evening that Fred Vincy walked to Lowick
Parsonage (he had begun to see that this was a
world in which even a spirited young man must
sometimes walk for want of a horse to carry him)
he set out at five o'clock and called on Mrs Garth
by the way, wishing to assure himself that she
accepted their new relations willingly.
He found the family group, dogs and cats in-
cluded, under the great apple-tree in the orchard.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 261
It was a festival with Mrs Garth, for her eldest
son, Christy, her peculiar joy and pride, had come .
home for a short holiday Christy, who held it
the most desirable thing in the world to be a tutor,
to study all literatures and be a regenerate Porson,
and who was an incorporate criticism on poor
Fred, a sort of object-lesson given to him by the
educational mother. Christy himself, a square-
browed, broad-shouldered masculine edition of his
mother not much higher than Fred's shoulder
which made it the harder that he should be held
superior was always as simple as possible, and
thought no more of Fred's disinclination to scholar-
ship than of a giraffe's, wishing that he himself
were more of the same height. He was lying on
the ground now by his mother's chair, with his
straw-hat laid flat over his eyes, while Jim on the
other side was reading aloud from that beloved
writer who has made a chief part in the happiness
of many young lives. The volume was 'Ivanhoe,'
and Jim was in the great archery scene at the
tournament, but suffered much interruption from
Ben, who had fetched his own old bow and
arrows, and was making himself dreadfully dis-
agreeable, Letty thought, by begging all present
to observe his random shots, which no one
wished to do except Brownie, the active- minded
but probably shallow mongrel, while the grizzled
Newfoundland lying in the sun looked on with
the dull- eyed neutrality of extreme old age. Letty
herself, showing as to her mouth and pinafore
some slight signs that she had been assisting
at the gathering of the cherries which stood
in a Coral -heap on the tea-table, was now
seated on the grass, listening open-eyed to the
But the centre of interest was changed for all
by the arrival of Fred Vincy. When, seating him-
self on a garden-stool, he said that he was on his
way to Lowick Parsonage, Ben, who had thrown
down his bow, and snatched up a reluctant half-
grown kitten instead, strode across Fred's out-
stretched leg and said, " Take me ! "
" Oh, and me too," said Letty.
" You can't keep up with Fred and me," said
" Yes, I can. Mother, please say that I am to
go," urged Letty, whose life was much checkered
by resistance to her depreciation as a girl.
" I shall stay with Christy," observed Jim ; as
much as to say that he had the advantage of those
simpletons ; whereupon Letty put her hand up to
her head and looked with jealous indecision from
the one to the other.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 263
"Let us all go and see Mary," said Christy,
opening his arms.
" No, my dear child, we must not go in a swarm
to the parsonage. And that old Glasgow suit of
yours would never do. Besides, your father will
come home. We must let Fred go alone. He can
tell Mary that you are here, and she will come
Christy glanced at his own threadbare knees, and
then at Fred's beautiful white trousers. Certainly
Fred's tailoring suggested the advantages of an
English university, and he had a graceful way
even of looking warm and of pushing his hair
back with his handkerchief.
" Children, run away," said Mrs Garth ; " it is
too warm to hang about your friends. Take your
brother and show him the rabbits."
The eldest understood, and led off the children
immediately. Fred felt that Mrs Garth wished to
give him an opportunity of saying anything he
had to say, but he could only begin by observing
" How glad you must be to have Christy here ! "
" Yes ; he is come sooner than I expected. He
got down from the coach at nine o'clock, just after
his father went out. I am longing for Caleb to
come and hear what wonderful progress Christy is
making. He has paid his expenses for the last
year by giving lessons, carrying on hard study at
the same time. He hopes soon to get a private
tutorship and go abroad."
" He is a great fellow," said Fred, to whom these
cheerful truths had a medicinal taste, "and no
trouble to anybody." After a slight pause, he
added,." But I fear you will think that I am going
to be a great deal of trouble to Mr Garth."
" Caleb likes taking trouble : he is one of those
men who always do more than any one would
have thought of asking them to do," answered Mrs
Garth. She was knitting, and could either look
at Fred or not, as she chose always an advantage
when one is bent on loading speech with salutary
meaning ; and though Mrs Garth intended to be
duly reserved, she did wish to say something that
Fred might be the better for.
" I know you think me very undeserving, Mrs
Garth, and with good reason," said Fred, his spirit
rising a little at the perception of something like
a disposition to lecture him. " I happen to have
behaved just the worst to the people I can't help
wishing for the most from. But while two men
like Mr Garth and Mr Farebrother have not given
me up, I don't see why I should give myself up."
Fred thought it might be well to suggest these
masculine examples to Mrs Garth.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 265
" Assuredly," said she, with gathering emphasis.
"A young man for whom two such elders had
devoted themselves would indeed be culpable if
he threw himself away and made their sacrifices
Fred wondered a little at this strong language,
but only said, " I hope it will not be so with me,
Mrs Garth, since I have some encouragement to
believe that I may win Mary. Mr Garth has told
you about that ? You were not surprised, I dare-
say ? " Fred ended, innocently referring only to
his own love as probably evident enough.
" Not surprised that Mary has given you en-
couragement?" returned Mrs Garth, who thought
it would be well for Fred to be more alive to the
fact that Mary's friends could not possibly have
wished this beforehand, whatever the Yincys might
suppose. "Yes, I confess I was surprised."
" She never did give me any not the least in
the world, when I talked to her myself," said Fred,
eager to vindicate Mary. "But when I asked
Mr Farebrother to speak for me, she allowed him
to tell me there was a hope."
The power of admonition which had begun
to stir in Mrs Garth had not yet discharged it-
self. It was a little too provoking even for her
self-control that this blooming youngster should
flourish on the disappointments of sadder and
wiser people making a meal of a nightingale
and never knowing it and that all the while his
family should suppose that hers was in eager need
of this sprig; and her vexation had fermented
the more actively because of its total repression
towards her husband. Exemplary wives will
sometimes find scapegoats in this way. She now
said with energetic decision, " You made a great
mistake, Fred, in asking Mr Farebrother to speak
" Did I ?" said Fred, reddening instantaneous-
ly. He was Alarmed, but at a loss to know what
Mrs Garth meant, and added, in an apologetic
tone, "Mr Farebrother has always been such a
friend of ours ; and Mary, I knew, would Hsten
to him gravely ; and he took it on himself quite
" Yes, young people are usually blind to every-
thing but their own wishes, and seldom imagine
how much those wishes cost others," said Mrs
Garth. She did not mean to go beyond this
salutary general doctrine, and threw her indig-
nation into a needless unwinding of her worsted,
knitting her brow at it with a grand air.
" I cannot conceive how it could be any pain to
Mr Farebrother," said Fred, who nevertheless felt
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 267
that surprising conceptions were beginning to
" Precisely ; you cannot conceive," said Mrs
Garth, cutting her words as neatly as possible.
For a moment Fred looked at the horizon with
a dismayed anxiety, and then turning with a
quick movement said almost sharply
"Do you mean to say, Mrs Garth, that Mr
Farebrother is in love with Mary?"
" And if it were so, Fred, I think you are the last
person who ought to be surprised," returned Mrs
Garth, laying her knitting down beside her and
folding her arms. It was an unwonted sign of
emotion in her that she should put her work out
of her hands. In fact her feelings were divided
between the satisfaction of giving Fred his disci-
pline and the sense of having gone a little too far.
Fred took his hat and stick and rose quickly.
" Then you think I am standing in his way,
and in Mary's too?" he said, in a tone which
seemed to demand an answer.
Mrs Garth could not speak immediately. She
had brought herself into the unpleasant position of
being called on to say what she really felt, yet
what she knew there were strong reasons for con-
cealing. And to her the consciousness of hav-
ing exceeded in words was peculiarly mortifying.
Besides, Fred had given out unexpected electri-
city, and he now added, " Mr Garth seemed pleased
that Mary should be attached to me. He could
not have known anything of this."
Mrs Garth felt a severe twinge at this mention
of her husband, the fear that Caleb might think
her in the wrong not being easily endurable. She
answered, wanting to check unintended conse-
" I spoke from inference only. I am not aware
that Mary knows anything of the matter."
But she hesitated to beg that he would keep
entire silence on a subject which she had herself
unnecessarily mentioned, not being used to stoop
in that way ; and while she was hesitating there
was already a rush of unintended consequences
under the apple-tree where the tea-things stood.
Ben, bouncing across the grass with Brownie at
his heels, and seeing the kitten dragging the
knitting by a lengthening line of wool, shouted
and clapped his hands\ Brownie barked, the kitten,
desperate, jumped on the tea-table and upset the
milk, then jumped down again and swept half
the cherries with it ; and Ben, snatching up the
half-knitted sock-top, fitted it over the kitten's
head as a new source of madness, while Letty
arriving cried out to her mother against this*
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 269
cruelty it was a history as full of sensation as
" This is the house that Jack built." Mrs Garth
was obliged to interfere, the other young ones came
up and the tete-d-tete with Fred was ended. He
got away as soon as he could, and Mrs Garth could
only imply some retractation of her severity by
saying "God bless you" when she shook hands
She was unpleasantly conscious that she had
been on the verge of speaking as " one of the
foolish women speaketh" telling first and en-
treating silence after. But she had not entreated
silence, and to prevent Caleb's blame she deter-
mined to blame herself and confess all to him that
very night. It was curious what an awful tri-
bunal the mild Caleb's was to her, whenever he
set it up. But she meant to point out to him
that the revelation might do Fred Yincy a great
deal of good.
No doubt it was having a strong effect on him
as he walked to Lowick. Fred's light hopeful
nature had perhaps never had so much of a bruise
as from this suggestion that if he had been out of
the way Mary might have made a thoroughly
good match. Also he was piqued that he had been
what he called such a stupid lout as to ask that
intervention from Mr Farebrother. But it was not
in a lover's nature it was not in Fred's, that
new anxiety raised about Mary's feeling should
not surmount every other. Notwithstanding his
trust in Mr Farebrother's generosity, notwith-
standing what Mary had said to him, Fred could
not help feeling that he had a rival : it was a new
consciousness, and he objected to it extremely,
not being in the least ready to give up Mary for
her good, being ready rather to fight for her with
any man whatsoever. But the fighting with Mr
Farebrother must be of a metaphorical kind,
which was much more difficult to Fred than the
muscular. Certainly this experience was a dis-
cipline for Fred hardly less sharp than his disap-
pointment about his uncle's will. The iron had
not entered into his soul, but he had begun to
imagine what the sharp edge would be. It did
not once occur to Fred that Mrs Garth might be
mistaken about Mr Farebrother, but he suspected
that she might be wrong about Mary. Mary had
been staying at the parsonage lately, and her
mother might know very little of what had been
passing in her mind.
He did not feel easier when he found her look-
ing cheerful with the three ladies in the drawing-
room. They were in animated discussion on some
subject which was dropped when he entered, and
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 271
Mary was copying the labels from a heap of
shallow cabinet drawers, in a minute handwriting
which she was skilled in. Mr Farebrother was
somewhere in the village, and the three ladies
knew nothing of Fred's peculiar relation to Mary :
it was impossible for either of them to propose
that they should walk round the garden, and Fred
predicted to himself that he should have to go
away without saying a word to her in private.
He told her first of Christy's arrival and then of
his own engagement with her father ; and he was
comforted by seeing that this latter news touched
her keenly. She said hurriedly, " I am so glad,"
and then bent over her writing to hinder any one
from noticing her face. But here was a subject
which Mrs Farebrother could not let pass.
"You don't mean, my dear Miss Garth, that
you are glad to hear of a young man giving up the
Church for which he was educated : you only mean
that things being so, you are glad that he should
be under an excellent man like your father."
" No, really, Mrs Farebrother, I am glad of both,
I fear," said Mary, cleverly getting rid of one re-
bellious tear. " I have a dreadfully secular mind.
I never liked any clergyman except the Vicar of
Wakefield and Mr Farebrother."
"Now why, my dear?" said Mrs Farebrother,
pausing on her large wooden knitting-needles and
looking at Mary. "You have always a good
reason for your opinions, but this astonishes ine.
Of course I put out of the question those who
preach new doctrine. But why should you dislike
" Oh dear," said Mary, her face breaking into
merriment as she seemed to consider a moment,
" I don't like their neckcloths."
"Why, you don't like Camden's, then," said
Miss Winifred, in some anxiety.
"Yes, I do," said Mary. "I don't like the
other clergymen's neckcloths, because it is they
who wear them."
" How very puzzling !" said Miss Noble, feeling
that her own intellect was probably deficient.
"My dear, you are joking. You would have
better reasons than these for slighting so respect-
able a class of men," said Mrs Farebrother, majes-
" Miss Garth has such severe notions of what
people should be that it is difficult to satisfy her,"
" Well, I am glad at least that she makes an
exception in favour of my son," said the old lady.
Mary was wondering at Fred's piqued tone, when
Mr Farebrother came in and had to hear the news
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 273
about the engagement under Mr Garth. At the
end he said with quiet satisfaction, "That is
right ;" and then bent to look at Mary's labels and
praise her handwriting. Fred felt horribly jealous
was glad, of course, that Mr Farebrother was so
estimable, but wished that he had been ugly and
fat as men at forty sometimes are. It was clear
what the end would be, since Mary openly placed
Farebrother above everybody, and these women
were all evidently encouraging the affair. He was
feeling sure that he should have no chance of
speaking to Mary, when Mr Farebrother said
" Fred, help me to carry these drawers back into
my study you have never seen my fine new
study. Pray come too, Miss Garth. I want you
to see a stupendous spider I found this morning/'
Mary at once saw the Vicar's intention. He
had never since the memorable evening deviated
from his old pastoral kindness towards her, and
her momentary wonder and doubt had quite gone
to sleep. Mary was accustomed to think rather
rigorously of what was probable, and if a belief
flattered her vanity she felt warned to dismiss it
as ridiculous, having early had much exercise in
such dismissals. It was as she had foreseen:
when Fred had been asked to admire the fittings
VOL. m. 8
of the study, and she had been asked to admire the
spider, Mr Farebrother said
" Wait here a minute or two. I am going to
look out an engraving which Fred is tall enough
to hang for me. I shall be back in a few minutes."
And then he went out. Nevertheless, the first
word Fred said to Mary was
" It is of no use, whatever I do, Mary. You are
sure to marry Farebrother at last." There was
some rage in his tone.
"What do you mean, Fred?" Mary exclaimed
indignantly, blushing deeply, and surprised out
of all her readiness in reply.
" It is impossible that you should not see it all
clearly enough you who see everything."
"I only see that you are behaving very ill,
Fred, in speaking so of Mr Farebrother after he
has pleaded your cause in every way. How can
you have taken up such an idea ?"
Fred was rather deep, in spite of his irritation.
If Mary had really been unsuspicious, there was
no good in telling her what Mrs Garth had said.
" It follows as a matter of course," he replied.
"When you are continually seeing a man who
beats me in everything, and whom you set up
above everybody, I can have no fair chance."
"You are very ungrateful, Fred," said Mary.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 275
" I wish I had never told Mr Farebrother that I
cared for you in the least."
"No, I am not ungrateful; I should be the
happiest fellow in the world if it were not for this.
I told your father everything, and he was very
kind ; he treated me as if I were his son. I could
go at the work with a will, writing and everything,
if it were not for this."
"For this? for what?" said 'Mary, imagining
now that something specific must have been said
" This dreadful certainty that I shall be bowled
out by Farebrother." Mary was appeased by her
inclination to laugh.
"Fred," she said, peeping round to catch his
eyes, which were sulkily turned away from her,
" you are too delightfully ridiculous. If you were
not such a charming simpleton, what a temptation
this would be to play the wicked coquette, and
let you suppose that somebody besides you has
made love to me."
" Do you really like me best, Mary ?" said Fred,
turning eyes full of affection on her, and trying to
take her hand.
" I don't like you at all at this moment," said
Mary, retreating, and putting her hands behind
her. " I only said that no mortal ever made love
to me besides you. And that is no argument that
a very wise man ever will/' she ended, merrily.
" I wish you would tell me that you could not
possibly ever think of him," said Fred.
" Never dare to mention this any more to me,
Fred," said Mary, getting serious again. " I don't
know whether it is more stupid or ungenerous
in you not to see that Mr Farebrother has left us
together on purpose that we might speak freely.
I am disappointed that you should be so blind to
his delicate feeling."
There was no time to say any more before Mr
Farebrother came back with the engraving ; and
Fred had to return to the drawing-room still with
a jealous dread in his heart, but yet with comfort-
ing arguments from Mary's words and manner.
The result of the conversation was on the whole
more painful to Mary: inevitably her attention had
taken a new attitude, and she saw the possibility
of new interpretations. She was in a position in
which she seemed to herself to be slighting Mr
Farebrother, and this, in relation to a man who is
much honoured, is always dangerous to the firm-
ness of a grateful woman. To have a reason for
going home the next day was a relief, for Mary
earnestly desired to be always clear that she loved
Fred best. When a tender affection has been
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 277
storing itself in us through many of our years, the
idea that we could accept any exchange for it
seems to be a cheapening of our lives. And we
can set a watch over our affections and our con-
stancy as we can over other treasures.
"Fred has lost all his other expectations; he
must keep this," Mary said to herself, with a
smile curling her lips. It was impossible to help
fleeting visions of another kind new dignities
and an acknowledged value of which she had
often felt the absence. But these things with
Fred outside them, Fred forsaken and looking sad
for the want of her, could never tempt her de-
' For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change :
In many's looks the false heart's history
Is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange ;
But Heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell ;
Whate'er thy thoughts or thy heart's workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell"
AT the time when Mr Vincy uttered that presenti-
ment about Rosamond, she herself had never had
the idea that she should be driven to make the
sort of appeal which he foresaw. She had not yet
had any anxiety about ways and means, although
her domestic life had been expensive as well as
eventful. Her baby had been born prematurely,
and all the embroidered robes and caps had to be
laid by in darkness. This misfortune was attri-
buted entirely to her having persisted in going
out on horseback one day when her husband had
desired her not to do so ; but it must not be sup-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 279
posed that she had shown temper on the occasion,
or rudely told him that she would do as she
What led her particularly to desire horse-exer-
cise was a visit from Captain Lydgate, the baron-
et's third son, who, I am sorry to say, was de-
tested by our Tertius of that name as a vapid
fop "parting his hair from brow to nape in a
despicable fashion " (not followed by Tertius him-
self), and showing an ignorant security that he
knew the proper thing to say on every topic.
Lydgate inwardly cursed his own folly that he
had drawn down this visit by consenting to go
to his uncle's on the wedding-tour, and he made
himself rather disagreeable to Eosamond by saying
so in private. For to Eosamond this visit was a
source of unprecedented but gracefully-concealed
exultation. She was so intensely conscious of
having a cousin who was a baronet's son staying
in the house, that she imagined the knowledge of
what was implied by his presence to be diffused
through all other minds ; and when she intro-
duced Captain Lydgate to her guests, she had a
placid sense that his rank penetrated them as if
it had been an odour. The satisfaction was enough
for the time to melt away some disappointment
in the conditions of marriage with a medical man
even of good birth : it seemed now that her mar-
riage was visibly as well as ideally floating her
above the Middlemarch level, and the future
looked bright with letters and visits to and from
Quallingham, and vague advancement in conse-
quence for Tertius. Especially as, probably at
the Captain's suggestion, his married sister, Mrs
Mengan, had come with her maid, and stayed two
nights on her way from town. Hence it was clearly
worth while for Eosamond to take pains with her
music and the careful selection of her lace.
As to Captain Lydgate himself, his low brow,
his aquiline nose bent on one side, and his rather
heavy utterance, might have been disadvantageous
in any young gentleman who had not a military
bearing and mustache to give him what is doated
on by some flower-like blond heads as "style."
He had, moreover, that sort of high -breeding
which consists in being free from the petty solici-
tudes of middle-class gentility, and he was a great
critic of feminine charms. Eosamond delighted
in his admiration now even more than she had
done at Quallingham, and he found it easy to
spend several hours of the day in flirting with
her. The visit altogether was one of the pleas-
antest larks he had ever had, not the less so per-
haps because he suspected that his queer cousin
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 281
Tertius wished him away: though Lydgate, who
would rather (hyperbolically speaking) have died
than have failed in polite hospitality, suppressed
his dislike, and only pretended generally not to
hear what the gallant officer said, consigning the
task of answering him to Eosamond. For he was
not at all a jealous husband, and preferred leaving
a feather-headed young gentleman alone with his
wife to bearing him company.
"I wish you would talk more to the Captain
at dinner, Tertius," said Eosamond, one evening
when the important guest was gone to Loamford
to see some brother officers stationed there.
" You really look so absent sometimes you seem
to be seeing through his head into something be-
hind it, instead of looking at him."
" My dear Eosy, you don't expect me to talk
much to such a conceited ass as that, I hope,"
said Lydgate, brusquely. "If he got his head
broken, I might look at it with interest, not
"I cannot conceive why you should speak of
your cousin so contemptuously," said Eosamond,
her fingers moving at her work while she spoke
with a mild gravity which had a touch of disdain
" Ask Ladislaw if he doesn't think your Captain
the greatest bore he ever met with. Ladislaw has
almost forsaken the house since he came."
Rosamond thought she knew perfectly well why
Mr Ladislaw disliked the Captain : he was jealous,
and she liked his being jealous.
" It is impossible to say what will suit eccentric
persons," she answered, " but in my opinion Cap-
tain Lydgate is a thorough gentleman, and I think
you ought not, out of respect to Sir Godwin, to
treat him with neglect."
" No, dear ; but we have had dinners for him.
And he comes in and goes out as he likes. He
doesn't want me."
" Still, when he is in the room, you might show
him more attention. He may not be a phoenix
of cleverness in your sense; his profession is
different ; but it would be all the better for you
to talk a little on his subjects. / think his con-
versation is quite agreeable. And he is anything
but an unprincipled man."
" The fact is, you would wish me to be a little
more like him, Rosy," said Lydgate, in a sort of
resigned murmur, with a smile which was not
exactly tender, and certainly not merry. Rosa-
mond was silent and did not smile again ; but the
lovely curves of her face looked good-tempered
enough without smiling.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 283
Those words of Lydgate's were like a sad mile-
stone marking how far he had travelled from his
old dreamland, in which Rosamond Vincy appeared
to be that perfect piece of womanhood who would
reverence her husband's mind after the fashion of
an accomplished mermaid, using her comb and
looking-glass, and singing her song for the relaxa-
tion of his adored wisdom alone. He had begun
to distinguish between that imagined adoration
and the attraction towards a man's talent because
it gives him prestige, and is like an order in his
button-hole or an Honourable before his name.
It might have been supposed that Rosamond had
travelled too, since she had found the pointless
conversation of Mr Ned Ply m dale perfectly weari-
some; but to most mortals there is a stupidity
which is unendurable and a stupidity which is
altogether acceptable else, indeed, what would
become of social bonds ? Captain Lydgate's stu-
pidity was delicately scented, carried itself with
" style," talked with a good accent, and was closely
related to Sir Godwin. Rosamond found it quite
agreeable and caught many of its phrases.
Therefore since Rosamond, as we know, was fond
of horseback, there were plenty of reasons why she
should be tempted to resume her riding when
Captain Lydgate, who had ordered his man with
two horses to follow him and put up at the " Green
Dragon/' begged her to go out on the grey which he
warranted to be gentle and trained to carry a lady
indeed, he had bought it for his sister, and was
taking it to Quallingham. Kosamond went out the
first time without telling her husband, and came
back before his return ; but the ride had been so
thorough a success, and she declared herself so
much the better in consequence, that he was in-
formed of it with full reliance on his consent that
she should go riding again.
On the contrary Lydgate was more than hurt
he was utterly confounded that she had risked
herself on a strange horse without referring the
matter to his wish. After the first almost thunder-
ing exclamations of astonishment, which sufficient-
ly warned Eosamond of what was coming, he was
silent for some moments.
" However, you. have come back safely," he said,
at last, in a decisive tone. " You will not go again,
Eosy ; that is understood. If it were the quietest,
most familiar horse in the world, there would
always be the chance of accident. And you know
very well that I wished you to give up riding the
roan on that account."
"But there is the chance of accident indoors,
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 285
" My darling, don't talk nonsense," said, Lydgate,
in an imploring tone ; " surely I am the person to
judge for you. I think it is enough that I say you
are not to go again."
Eosamond was arranging her hair before dinner,
and the reflection of her head in the glass showed
no change in its loveliness except a little turning
aside of the long neck. Lydgate had been moving
about with his hands in his pockets, and now
paused near her, as if he awaited some assurance.
" I wish you would fasten up my plaits, dear,"
said Eosamond, letting her arms fall with a little
sigh, so as to make a husband ashamed of standing
there like a brute. Lydgate had often fastened the
plaits before, being among the deftest of men with
his large finely-formed fingers. He swept up the
soft festoons of plaits and fastened in the tall comb
(to such uses do men come !) ; and what could he do
then but kiss the exquisite nape which was shown
in all its delicate curves ? But when we do what we
have done before, it is often with a difference. Lyd-
gate was still angry, and had not forgotten his point.
" I shall tell the Captain that he ought to have
known better than offer you his horse," he said,
as he moved away.
" I beg you will not do anything of the kind,
Tertius," said Eosamond, looking at him with
something more marked than usual in her speech.
" It will be treating me as if I were a child. Pro-
mise that you will leave the subject to me."
There did seem to be some truth in her objec-
tion. Lydgate said, "Very well," with a surly
obedience, and thus the discussion ended with his
promising Eosamond, and not with her promising
In fact, she had been determined not to promise.
Eosamond had that victorious obstinacy which
never wastes its energy in impetuous resistance.
What she liked to do was to her the right thing,
and all her cleverness was directed to getting the
means of doing it. She meant to go out riding
again on the grey, and she did go on the next
opportunity of her husband's absence, not intend-
ing that he should know until it was late enough
not to signify to her. The temptation was certainly
great : she was very fond of the exercise, and the
gratification of riding on a fine horse, with Captain
Lydgate, Sir Godwin's son, on another fine horse
by her side, and of being met in this position by
any one but her husband, was something as good
as her dreams before marriage : moreover, she was
riveting the connection with the family at Qual-
lingham, which must be a wise thing to do.
But the gentle grey, unprepared for the crash of
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 287
a tree that was being felled on the edge of Hal sell
wood, took fright, and caused a worse fright to
Eosamond, leading finally to the loss of her baby.
Lydgate could not show his anger towards her, but
he was rather bearish to the Captain, whose visit
naturally soon came to an end.
In all future conversations on the subject, Rosa-
mond was mildly certain that the ride had made
no difference, and that if she had stayed at home
the same symptoms would have come on and would
have ended in the same way, because she had felt
something like them before.
Lydgate could only say, "Poor, poor darling!"
but he secretly wondered over the terrible ten-
acity of this mild creature. There was gathering
within him an amazed sense of his powerlessness
over Rosamond. His superior knowledge and
mental force, instead of being, as he had imagined,
a shrine to consult on all occasions, was simply set
aside on every practical question. He had regarded
Rosamond's cleverness as precisely of the receptive
kind which became a woman. He was now be-
ginning to find out what that cleverness was what
was the shape into which it had run as into a close
network aloof and independent. No one quicker
than Rosamond to see causes and effects which lay
within the track of her own tastes and interests :
she had seen clearly Lydgate's pre-eminence in
Middlemarch society, and could go on imaginative-
ly tracing still more agreeable social effects when
his talent should have advanced him ; but for her,
his professional and scientific ambition had no
other relation to these desirable effects than if they
had been the fortunate discovery of an ill-smelling
oil. And that oil apart, with which she had no-
thing to do, of course she believed in her own
opinion more than she did in his. Lydgate was
astounded to find in numberless trifling matters,
as well as in this last serious case of the riding,
that affection did not make her compliant. He
had no doubt that the affection was there, and had
no presentiment that he had done anything to
repel it. For his own part he said to himself that
he loved her as tenderly as ever, and could make
up his mind to her negations ; but well ! Lydgate
was much worried, and conscious of new elements
in his life as noxious to him as an inlet of mud to a
creature that has been used to breathe and bathe
and dart after its illuminated prey in the clearest
Eosamond was soon looking lovelier than ever
at her work-table, enjoying drives in her father's
phaeton and thinking it likely that she might be
invited to Quallingham. She knew that she was
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 289
a much more exquisite ornament to the drawing-
room there than any daughter of the family, and in
reflecting that the gentlemen were aware of that,
did not perhaps sufficiently consider whether the
ladies would be eager to see themselves surpassed.
Lydgate, relieved from anxiety about her, re-
lapsed into what she inwardly called his moodi-
ness a name which to her covered his thought-
ful preoccupation with other subjects than herself,
as well as that uneasy look of the brow and dis-
taste for all ordinary things as if they were mixed
with bitter herbs, which really made a sort of
weather-glass to his vexation and foreboding.
These latter states of mind had one cause amongst
others, which he had generously but mistakenly
avoided mentioning to Eosamond, lest it should
affect her health and spirits. Between him and
her indeed there was that total missing of each
other's mental track, which is too evidently pos-
sible even between persons who are continually
thinking of each other. To Lydgate it seemed
that he had been spending month after month in
sacrificing more than half of his best intent and
best power to his tenderness for Eosamond ; bear-
ing her little claims and interruptions without
impatience, and, above all, bearing without betrayal
of bitterness to look through less and less of in-
VOL. m. T
terfering illusion at the blank unreflecting surface
her mind presented to his ardour for the more
impersonal ends of his profession and his scientific
study, an ardour which he had fancied that the ideal
wife must somehow worship as sublime, though
not in the least knowing why. But his endurance
was mingled with a self-discontent which, if we
know how to be candid, we shall confess to make
more than half our bitterness under grievances,
wife or husband included. It always remains true
that if we had been greater, circumstance would
have been less strong against us. Lydgate was
aware that his concessions to Rosamond were often
little more than the lapse of slackening resolution,
the creeping paralysis apt to seize an enthusiasm
which is out of adjustment to a constant portion
of our lives. And on Lydgate's enthusiasm there
was constantly pressing not a simple weight of
sofrow, but the biting presence of a petty degrad-
ying care, such as casts the blight of irony over all
/ higher effort.
r\/ This was the care which he had hitherto ab-
stained from mentioning to Rosamond; and he
believed, with some wonder, that it had never
entered her mind, though certainly no difficulty
could be less mysterious. It was an inference
with a conspicuous handle to it, and had been
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 291
easily drawn by indifferent observers, that Lyd-
gate was in debt ; and he could not succeed in
keeping out of his mind for long together that he
was every day getting deeper into that swamp,
which tempts men towards it with such a pretty
covering of flowers and verdure. It is wonderful
how soon a man gets up to his chin there in a
condition in which, spite of himself, he is forced
to think chiefly of release, though he had a scheme
of the universe in his soul.
Eighteen months ago we know that Lydgate
was poor, but had never known the eager want of
small sums, and felt rather a burning contempt
for any one who descended a step in order to
gain them. He was now experiencing something
worse than a simple deficit : he was assailed by
the vulgar hateful trials of a man who has bought
and used a great many things which might have
been done without, and which he is unable to pay
for, though the demand for payment has become
How this came about may be easily seen without
much arithmetic or knowledge of prices. When
a man in setting up a house and preparing for
marriage finds that his furniture and other initial
expenses come to between four and five hundred
pounds more than he has capital to pay for; when
at the end of a year it appears that his household
expenses, horses and et caeteras, amount to nearly
a thousand, while the proceeds of the practice
reckoned from the old books to be worth eight
hundred per annum have sunk like a summer
pond and make hardly five hundred chiefly in
unpaid- entries, the plain inference is that, whether
he minds it or not, he is in debt. Those were less
expensive times than our own, and provincial life
was comparatively modest ; but the ease with
which a medical man who had lately bought a
practice, who thought he was obliged to keep two
horses, whose table was supplied without stint,
and who paid an insurance on his life and a high
rent for house and garden, might find his expenses
doubling his receipts, can be conceived by any
one who does not think these details beneath his
consideration. Rosamond, accustomed from her
childhood to an extravagant household, thought
that good housekeeping consisted simply in ordering
the best of everything nothing else "answered;"
and Lydgate supposed that " if things were done
at all, they must be done properly " he did not
see how they were to live otherwise. If each
head of household expenditure had been men-
tioned to him beforehand, he would have probably
observed that "it could hardly come to much,"
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 293
and if any one had suggested a saving on a par-
ticular article for example, the substitution of
cheap fish for dear it would have appeared to
him simply a penny-wise, mean notion. Eosa-
mond, even without such an occasion as Captain
Lydgate's visit, was fond of giving invitations, and
Lydgate, though he often thought the guests tire-
some, did not interfere. This sociability seemed a
necessary part of professional prudence, and the
entertainment must be suitable. It is true Lyd-
gate was constantly visiting the homes of the poor
and adjusting his prescriptions of diet to their
small means ; but, dear me ! has it not by this time
ceased to be remarkable is it not rather what we
expect in men, that they should have numerous
strands of experience lying side by side and never
compare them with each other ? Expenditure
like ugliness and errors becomes a totally new
thing when we attach our own personality to it,
and measure it by that wide difference which is
manifest (in our own sensations) between ourselves
and others. Lydgate believed himself to be care-
less about his dress, and he despised a man who
calculated the effects of his costume ; it seemed to
him only a matter of course that he had abun-
dance of fresh garments such things were natur-
ally ordered in sheaves. It must be remembered
that he had never hitherto felt the check of im-
portunate debt, and he walked by habit, not by
self-criticism. But the check had come.
Its novelty made it the more irritating: He
was amazed, disgusted that conditions so foreign
to all his purposes, so hatefully disconnected with
the objects he cared to occupy himself with,
should have lain in ambush and clutched him
when he was unaware. And there was not only
the actual debt ; there was the certainty that in
his present position he must go on deepening it.
Two furnishing tradesmen at Brassing, whose bills
had been incurred before his marriage, and whom
uncalculated current expenses had ever since pre-
vented him from paying, had repeatedly sent him
unpleasant letters which had forced themselves
on his attention. This could hardly have been
more galling to any disposition than to Lydgate's,
with his intense pride his dislike of asking a
favour or being under an obligation to any one.
He had scorned even to form conjectures about
Mr Vincy's intentions on money matters, and no-
thing but extremity could have induced him to
apply to his father-in-law, even if he had not been
made aware in various indirect ways since his
marriage that Mr Vincy's own affairs were not
flourishing, and that the expectation of help from
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 295
him would be resented. Some men easily trust
in the readiness of friends ; it had never in the
former part of his life occurred to Lydgate that he
should need to do so : he had never thought what
borrowing would be to him; but now that the
idea had entered his mind, he felt that he would
rather incur any other hardship. In the mean
time he had no money or prospects of money; and
his practice was not getting more lucrative.
No wonder that Lydgate had been unable to
suppress all signs of inward trouble during the
last few months, and now that Eosamond was
regaining brilliant health, he meditated taking
her entirely into confidence on his difficulties.
New conversance with tradesmen's bills had forced
his reasoning into a new channel of comparison :
he had begun to consider from a new point of
view what was necessary and unnecessary in
goods ordered, and to see that there must be some
change of habits. How could such a change be
made without Eosamond's concurrence ? The im-
mediate occasion of opening the disagreeable fact
to her was forced upon him.
Having no money, and having privately sought
advice as to what security could possibly be given
by a man in his position, Lydgate had offered the
one good security in his power to the less peremp-
tory creditor, who was a silversmith and jeweller,
and who consented to take on himself the uphol-
sterer's credit also, accepting interest for a given
term. The security necessary was a bill of sale on
the furniture of his house, which might make a
creditor easy for a reasonable time about a debt
amounting to less than four hundred pounds ; and
the silversmith, Mr Dover, was willing to reduce
it by taking back a portion of the plate and any
other article which was as good as new. "Any
other article" was a phrase delicately implying
jewellery, and more particularly some purple
amethysts costing thirty pounds, which Lydgate
had bought as a bridal present.
Opinions may be divided as to his wisdom in
making this present : some may think that it was
a graceful attention to be expected from a man
like Lydgate, and that the fault of any trouble-
some consequences lay in the pinched narrowness
of provincial life at that time, which offered no
conveniences for professional people whose fortune
was not proportioned to their tastes ; also, in Lyd-
gate's ridiculous fastidiousness about asking his
friends for money.
However, it had seemed a question of no mo-
ment to him on that fine morning when he went
to give a final order for plate : in the presence of
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 227
other jewels enormously expensive, and as an
addition to orders of which the amount had not
been exactly calculated, thirty pounds for orna-
ments so exquisitely suited to Eosamond's neck
and arms could hardly appear excessive when there
was no ready cash for it to exceed. But at this
crisis Lydgate's imagination could not help dwell-
ing on the possibility of letting the amethysts
take their place again among Mr Dover's stock,
though he shrank from the idea of proposing this
to Eosamond. Having been roused to discern
consequences which he had never been in the
habit of tracing, he was preparing to act on this
discernment with some of the rigour (by no means
all) that he would have applied in pursuing ex-
periment. He was nerving himself to this rigour
as he rode from Brassing, and meditated on the
representations he must make to Eosamond.
It was evening when he got home. He was
intensely miserable, this strong man of nine-and-
twenty and of many gifts. He was not saying
angrily within himself that he had made a pro-
found mistake ; but the mistake was at work in
him like a recognised chronic disease, mingling
its uneasy importunities with every prospect, and
enfeebling every thought. As he went along the
passage to the drawing-room, he heard the piano
and singing. Of course, Ladislaw was there. It
was some weeks since Will had parted from Doro-
thea, yet he was still at the old post in Middle-
march. Lydgate had no objection in general to
Ladislaw's coming, but just now he was annoyed
that he could not find his hearth free. When he
opened the door the two singers went on towards
the key-note, raising their eyes and looking at him
indeed, but not regarding his entrance as an inter-
ruption. To a man galled with his harness as
poor Lydgate was, it is not soothing to see two
people warbling at him, as he comes in with the
sense that the painful day has still pains in store.
His face, already paler than usual, took on a scowl
as he walked across the room and flung himself
into a chair.
The singers feeling themselves excused by the
fact that they had had only three bars to sing,
now turned round.
"How are you, Lydgate?" said Will, coming
forward to shake hands.
Lydgate took his hand, but did not think it
necessary to speak.
"Have you dined, Tertius? I expected you
much earlier," said Eosamond, who had already
seen that her husband was in a "horrible humour."
She seated herself in her usual place as she spoke.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 299
" I have dined. I should like some tea, please,"
said Lydgate, curtly, still scowling and looking
markedly at his legs stretched out before him.
Will was too quick to need more. " I shall be
off," he said, reaching his hat.
" Tea is coming," said Eosamond ; " pray don't
"Yes, Lydgate is bored," said Will, who had
more comprehension of Lydgate than Eosamond
had, and was not offended by his manner, easily
imagining outdoor causes of annoyance.
" There is the more need for you to stay," said
Eosamond, playfully, and in her lightest accent;
"he will not speak to me all the evening."
" Yes, Eosamond, I shall," said Lydgate, in his
strong baritone. "I have some serious business
to speak to you about."
No introduction of the business could have been
less like that which Lydgate had intended; but
her indifferent manner had been too provoking,
" There ! you see," said Will. " I'm- going to
the meeting about the Mechanics' Institute. Good-
bye ; " and he went quickly out of the room.
Eosamond did not look at her husband, but pre-
sently rose and took her place before the tea-tray.
She was thinking that she had never seen him so
disagreeable. Lydgate turned his dark eyes on
her and watched her as she delicately handled the
tea-service with her taper fingers, and looked at
the objects immediately before her with no curve
in her face disturbed, and yet with an ineffable
protest in her air against all people with unpleas-
ant manners. For the moment he lost the sense
of his wound in a sudden speculation about this new
form of feminine impassibility revealing itself in
the sylph-like frame which he had once interpret-
ed as the sign of a ready intelligent sensitiveness.
His mind glancing back to Laure while he looked
at Kosamond, he said inwardly, " Would she kill
me because I wearied her ? " and then, " It is the
way with all women." But this power of general-
ising which gives men so much the superiority in
mistake over the dumb animals, was immediately
thwarted by Lydgate's memory of wondering im-
pressions from the behaviour of another woman
from Dorothea's looks and tones of emotion about
her husband when Lydgate began to attend him
from her passionate cry to be taught what would
best comfort that man for whose sake it seemed as
if she must quell every impulse in her except the
yearnings of faithfulness and compassion. These
revived impressions succeeded each other quickly
and dreamily in Lydgate's mind while the tea was
being brewed. He had shut his eyes in the last
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 301
instant of reverie while he heard Dorothea saying,
" Advise me think what I can do he has been
all his life labouring and looking forward. He
minds about nothing else and I mind about
That voice of deep-souled womanhood had re-
mained within him as the enkindling conceptions
of dead and sceptred genius had remained within
him (is there not a genius for feeling nobly which
also reigns over human spirits and their conclu-
sions ?) ; the tones were a music from which he
was falling away he had really fallen into a
momentary doze, when Eosamond said in her
silvery neutral way, " Here is your tea, Tertius,"
setting it on the small table by his side, and then
moved back to her place without looking at him.
Lydgate was too hasty in attributing insensibility
to her ; after her own fashion, she was sensitive
enough, and took lasting impressions. Her im-
pression now was one of offence and repulsion.
But then, Rosamond had no scowls and had never
raised her voice : she was quite sure that no one
could justly find fault with her.
Perhaps Lydgate and she had never felt so far
off each other before ; but there were strong rea-
sons for not deferring his revelation, even if he
had not already begun it by that abrupt announce-
ment ; indeed some of the angry desire to rouse
her into more sensibility on his account which
had prompted him to speak prematurely, still
mingled with his pain in the prospect of her
pain. But he waited till the tray was gone, the
candles were lit, and the evening quiet might be
counted on: the interval had left time for re-
pelled tenderness to return into the old course.
He spoke kindly.
" Dear Eosy, lay down your work and come to
sit by me," he said, gently, pushing away the
table, and stretching out his arm to draw a chair
near his own.
Eosamond obeyed. As she came towards him
in her drapery of transparent faintly-tinted muslin,
her slim yet round figure never looked more grace-
ful ; as she sat down by him and laid one hand
on the elbow of his chair, at last looking at him and
meeting his eyes, her delicate neck and cheek and
purely-cut lips never had more of that untarnished
beauty which touches us in spring-time and in-
fancy and all sweet freshness. It touched Lyd-
gate now, and mingled the early moments of his
love for her with all the other memories which
were stirred in this crisis of deep trouble. He
laid his ample hand softly on hers, saying
" Dear ! " with the lingering utterance which
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 303
affection gives to the word. Eosamond too was
still under the power of that same past, and her
husband was still in part the Lydgate whose
approval had stirred delight. She put his hair
lightly away from his forehead, then laid her
other hand on his, and was conscious of forgiving
" I am obliged to tell you what will hurt you,
Eosy. But there are things which husband and
wife must think of together. I daresay it has
occurred to you already that I am short of
Lydgate paused; but Eosamond turned her
neck and looked at a vase on the mantelpiece.
" I was not able to pay for all the things we
had to get before we were married, and there have
been expenses since which I have been obliged to
meet. The consequence is, there is a large debt
at Brassing three hundred and eighty pounds
which has been pressing on me a good while,
and in fact we are getting deeper every day, for
people don't pay me the faster because others
want the money. I took pains to keep it from
you while you were not well ; but now we must
think together about it, and you must help me."
"What can I do, Tertius?" said Eosamond,
turning her eyes on him again. That little speech
of four words, like so many others in all languages
is capable by varied vocal inflexions of expressing
all states of mind from helpless dimness to ex-
haustive argumentative perception, from the com-
pletest self-devoting fellowship to the most neutral
aloofness. Eosamond's thin utterance threw into
the words " What can / do ? " as much neutrality
as they could hold. They fell like a mortal chill
on Lydgate's roused tenderness. He did not storm
in indignation he felt too sad a sinking of the
heart. And when he spoke again it was more in
the tone of a man who forces himself to fulfil a
"It is necessary for you to know, because I
have to give security for a time, and a man must
come to make an inventory of the furniture/'
Eosamond coloured deeply. " Have you not
asked papa for money ? " she said, as soon as she
" Then I must ask him ! " she said, releasing
her hands from Lydgate's, and rising to stand at
two yards' distance from him.
"No, Eosy," said Lydgate, decisively. "It is
too late to do that. The inventory will be begun
to-morrow. Eemember it is a mere security : it
will make no difference : it is a temporary affair.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 305
I insist upon it that your father shall not know,
unless I choose to *tell him," added Lydgate, with
a more peremptory emphasis.
This certainly was unkind, "but Eosamond had
thrown him back on evil expectation as to what
she would do in the way of quiet steady dis-
obedience. The unkindness seemed unpardonable
to her : she was not given to weeping and disliked
it, but now her chin and lips began to tremble
and the tears welled up. Perhaps it was not
possible for Lydgate, under the double stress of
outward material difficulty and of his own proud
resistance to humiliating consequences, to imagine
fully what this sudden trial was to a young crea-
ture who had known nothing but indulgence, and
whose dreams had all been of new indulgence,
more exactly to her taste. But he did wish to
spare her as much as he could, and her tears cut
him to the heart. He could not speak again
immediately ; but Eosamond did not go on sob-
bing: she tried to conquer her agitation and
wiped away her tears, continuing to look before
her at the mantelpiece.
" Try not to grieve, darling," said Lydgate, turn-
ing his eyes up towards her. That she had
chosen to move away from him in this moment of
her trouble made everything harder to say, but he
VOL. m. U
must absolutely go on. " We must brace our-
selves to do what is necessary. It is I who
have been in fault : I ought to have seen that I
could not afford to live in this way. But many
things have told against me in my practice, and it
really just now has ebbed to a low point. I may
recover it, but in the mean time we must pull up
we must change our way of living. We shall
weather it. When I have given this security I
shall have time to look about me ; and you are so
clever that if you turn your mind to managing
you will school me into carefulness. I have been
a thoughtless rascal about squaring prices but
come, dear, sit down and forgive me."
Lydgate was bowing his neck under the yoke
like a creature who had talons, but who had
Eeason too, which often reduces us to meekness.
When he had spoken the last words in an im-
ploring tone, Eosamond returned to the chair by
his side. His self-blame gave her some hope that
he would attend to her opinion, and she said
" Why can you not put off having the inventory
made ? You can send the men away to-morrow
when they come."
" I shall not send them away," said Lydgate,
the peremptoriness rising again. Was it of any
use to explain ?
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 307
" If we left Middlemarch, there would of course
be a sale, and that would do as well."
" But we are not going to leave Middlemarch."
" I am sure, Tertius, it would be much better to
do so. Why can we not go to London ? Or near
Durham, where your family is known ? "
"We can go nowhere without money, Rosa-
" Your friends would not wish you to be with-
out money. And surely these odious tradesmen
might be made to understand that, and to wait, if
you would make proper representations to them."
" This is idle, Eosamond," said Lydgate, angrily.
"You must learn to take my judgment on ques-
tions you don't understand. I have made neces-
sary arrangements, and they must be carried out.
As to friends, I have no expectations whatever
from them, and shall not ask them for anything."
Eosamond sat perfectly still. The thought in
her mind was that if she had known how Lydgate
would behave, she would never have married
" We have no time to waste now on unnecessary
words, dear," said Lydgate, trying to be gentle
again. "There are some details that I want to
consider with you. Dover says he will take a
.good deal of the plate back again, and any of
the jewellery we like. He really behaves very
"Are we to go without spoons and forks then ?"
said Eosaniond, whose very lips seemed to get
thinner with the thinness of her utterance. She
was determined to make no further resistance or
" Oh no, dear ! " said Lydgate. " But look here,"
he continued, drawing a paper from his pocket and
opening it ; " here is Dover's account. See, I
have marked a number of articles, which if we
returned them would reduce the amount by thirty
pounds and more. I have not marked any of the
jewellery." Lydgate had really felt this point of
the jewellery very bitter to himself; but he had
overcome the feeling by severe argument. He
could not propose to Eosamond that she should
return any particular present of his, but he had
told himself that he was bound to put Dover's
offer before her, and her inward prompting might
make the affair easy.
"It is useless for me to look, Tertius," said
Eosamond, calmly; "you will return what you
please." She would not turn her eyes on the
paper, and Lydgate, flushing up to the roots of his
hair, drew it back and let it fall on his knee.
Meanwhile Eosamond quietly went out of the room,
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 309
leaving Lydgate Jielpless and wondering. Was
she not coming back ? It seemed that she had no
more identified herself with him than if they had
been creatures of different species and opposing
interests. He tossed his head and thrust his
hands deep into his pockets with a sort of ven-
geance. There was still science there were still
good objects to work for. He must give a tug
still all the stronger because other satisfactions
But the door opened and Eosamond re-entered.
She carried the leather box containing the
amethysts, and a tiny ornamental basket which
contained other boxes, and laying them on the
chair where she had been sitting, she said, with
perfect propriety in her air
"Th:s is all the jewellery you ever gave me.
You can return what you like of it, and of the
plate also. You will not, of course, expect me to
stay at home to-morrow. I shall go to papa's."
To many women the look Lydgate cast at her
would have been more terrible than one of anger :
it had in it a despairing acceptance of the distance
she was placing between them.
"And when shall you come back again?" he
said, with a bitter edge on his accent.
"Oh, in the evening. Of course I shall not
mention the subject to mamma." Eosamond was
convinced that no woman could behave more ir-
reproachably than she was behaving ; and she
went to sit down at her work-table. Lydgate
sat meditating a minute or two, and the result
was that he said, with some of the old emotion in
' Now we have been united, Rosy, you should
not leave me to myself in the first trouble that
" Certainly not," said Eosamond ; " I shall do
everything it becomes me to do/'
" It is not right that the thing should be left to
servants, or that I should have to speak to them
about it. And I shall be obliged to go out I
don't know how early. I understand your shrink-
ing from the humiliation of these money affairs.
But, my dear Eosamond, as a question of pride,
which I feel just as much as you can, it is surely
better to manage the thing ourselves, and let the
servants see as little of it as possible ; and since
you are my wife, there is no hindering your share
in my disgraces if there were disgraces."
Eosamond did not answer immediately, but at
last she said, "Very well, I will stay at home."
"I shall not touch these jewels, Eosy. Take
them away again. But I will write out a list of
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 311
plate that we may ^return, and that can be packed
up and sent at once."
" The servants will know that" said Eosamond,
with the slightest touch of sarcasm.
"Well, we must meet some disagreeables as
necessities. Where is the ink, I wonder?" said
Lydgate, rising, and throwing the account on the
larger table where he meant to write.
Eosamond went to reach the inkstand, and after
setting it on the table was going to turn away,
when Lydgate, who was standing close by, put his
am round her and drew her towards him, saying,
" Come, darling, let us make the best of things.
It will only be for a time, I hope, that we shall
have to be stingy and particular. Kiss me."
His native warm-heartedness took a great deal
of quenching, and it is a part of manliness for a
husband to feel keenly the fact that an inex-
perienced girl has got into trouble by marrying
him. She received his kiss and returned it faint-
ly, and in this way an appearance of accord was
recovered for the time. But Lydgate could not
help looking forward with dread to the inevitable
future discussions about expenditure and the
necessity for a complete change in their way of
They said of old the Soul had human shape,
But smaller, subtler than the fleshly self,
So wandered forth for airing when it pleased.
And see ! beside her cherub-face there floats
A pale-lipped form aerial whispering
Its promptings in that little shell her ear.
NEWS is often dispersed as thoughtlessly and
effectively as that pollen which the bees carry off
(having no idea how powdery they are) when they
are buzzing in search of their particular nectar.
This fine comparison has reference to Fred Vincy,
who on that evening at Lowick Parsonage heard a
lively discussion among the ladies on the news
which their old servant had got from Tantripp
concerning Mr Casaubon's strange mention of
Mr Ladislaw in a codicil to his will made not long
before his death. Miss Winifred was astounded
to find fhat her brother had known the fact before,
and observed that Camden was the most wonder-
ful man for knowing things and not telling them ;
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 313
whereupon Mary Garth said that the codicil had
perhaps got mixed up with the habits of spiders,
which Miss Winifred never would listen to. Mrs
Farebrother considered that the news had some-
thing to do with their having only once seen Mr
Ladislaw at Lowick, and Miss Noble made many
small compassionate mewings.
Fred knew little and cared less about Ladislaw
and the Casaubons, and his mind never recurred
to that discussion till one day calling on Eosamond
at his mother's request to deliver a message as he
passed, he happened to see Ladislaw going away.
Fred and Eosamond had little to say to each other
now that marriage had removed her from collision
with the unpleasantness of brothers, and especially
now that he had taken what she held the stupid and
even reprehensible step of giving up the Church
to take to such a business as Mr Garth's. Hence
Fred talked by preference of what he considered
indifferent news, and "a propos of that young
Ladislaw" mentioned what he had heard at
Now Lydgate, like Mr Farebrother, knew a great
deal more than he told, and when he had once
been set thinking about the relation between Will
and Dorothea his conjectures had gone beyond the
fact. He imagined that there was a passionate
attachment on both sides, and this struck him as
much too serious to gossip about. He remembered
Will's irritability when he had mentioned Mrs
Casaubon, and was the more circumspect. On the
whole his surmises, in addition to what he knew of
the fact, increased his friendliness and tolerance
towards Ladislaw, and made him understand the
vacillation which kept him at Middlemarch after
he had said that he should go away. It was signi-
ficant of the separateness between Lydgate's mind
and Kosamond's that he had no impulse to speak
to her on the subject; indeed, he did not quite
trust her reticence towards Will. And he was right
there; though he had no vision of the way in
which her mind would act in urging her to speak.
When she repeated Fred's news to Lydgate, he
said, " Take care you don't drop the faintest hint
to Ladislaw, Eosy. He is likely to fly out as if
you insulted him. Of course it is a painful affair."
Eosamond turned her neck and patted her hair,
looking the image of placid indifference. But the
next time Will came when Lydgate was away, she
spoke archly about his not going to London as he
" I know all about it. I have a confidential
little bird," said she, showing very pretty airs of
her head over the bit of work held high between
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 315
her active fingers. " There is a powerful magnet
in this neighbourhood."
"To be sure there is. Nobody knows that
better than you/' said Will, with light gallantry,
but inwardly prepared to be angry.
" It is really the most charming romance : Mr
Casaubon jealous, and foreseeing that there was no
one else whom Mrs Casaubon would so much like
to marry, and no one who would so much like to
marry her as a certain gentleman ; and then laying
a plan to spoil all by making her forfeit her property
if she did marry that gentleman and then and
then and then oh, I have no doubt the end will
be thoroughly romantic."
"Great God! what do you mean?" said Will,
flushing over face and ears, his features seeming to
change as if he had had a violent shake. " Don't
joke ; tell me what you mean."
"You don't really know?" said Kosamond, no
longer playful, and desiring nothing better than to
tell, in order that she might evoke effects.
"No \" he returned, impatiently.
" Don't know that Mr Casaubon has left it in
his will that if Mrs Casaubon marries you she is
to forfeit all her property ?"
"How do you know that it is true?" said Will,
"My brother Fred heard it from the Fare-
Will started up from his chair and reached his
"I daresay she likes you better than the
property/' said Eosamond, looking at him from
" Pray don't say any more about it," said Will,
in a hoarse under-tone extremely unlike his usual
light voice. " It is a foul insult to her and to me."
Then he sat down absently, looking before him,
but seeing nothing.
" Now you are angry with me" said Eosamond.
" It is too bad to bear me malice. You ought to be
obliged to me for telling you."
" So I am," said Will, abruptly, speaking with
that kind of double soul which belongs to dreamers
who answer questions.
" I expect to hear of the marriage," said Eosa-
" Never ! You will never hear of the marriage ! "
With those words uttered impetuously, Will
rose, put out his hand to Eosamond, still with the
air of a somnambulist, and went away.
When he was gone, Eosamond left her chair and
walked to the other end of the room, leaning when
she got there against a chifonniere, and looking
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 317
out of the window wearily. She was oppressed
by ennui, and by that dissatisfaction which in
women's minds is continually turning into a trivial
jealousy, referring to no real claims, springing from
no deeper passion than the vague exactingness of
egoism, and yet capable of impelling action as well
as speech. " There really is nothing to care for
much," said poor Rosamond inwardly, thinking of
the family at Quallingham, who did not write to
her ; and that perhaps Tertius when he came home
would tease her about expenses. She had already
secretly disobeyed him by asking her father to help
them, and he had ended decisively by saying, " I
am more likely to want help myself."
1 Good phrases are surely, and ever were, very commendable."
A FEW days afterwards it was already the end
of August there was an occasion which caused
some excitement in Middlemarch : the public, if
it chose, was to have the advantage of buying,
under the distinguished auspices of Mr Borthrop
Trumbull, the furniture, books, and pictures which
anybody might see by the handbills to be the
best in every kind, belonging to Edwin Larcher,
Esq. This was not one of the sales indicating the
depression of trade ; on the contrary, it was due to
Mr Larcher's great success in the carrying busi-
ness, which warranted his purchase of a mansion
near Biverston already furnished in high style
by an illustrious Spa physician furnished indeed
with such large framefuls of expensive flesh-
painting in the dining-room, that Mrs Larcher was
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 319
nervous until reassured by finding the subjects to
be Scriptural. Hence the fine opportunity to pur-
chasers which was well pointed out in the hand-
bills of Mr Borthrop Trumbull, whose acquaintance
with the history of art enabled him to state that
the hall furniture, to be sold without reserve, com-
prised a piece of carving by a contemporary of
At Middlemarch in those times a large sale was
regarded as a kind of festival. There was a table
spread with the best cold eatables, as at a supe-
rior funeral ; and facilities were offered for that
generous drinking of cheerful glasses which might
lead to generous and cheerful bidding for unde-
sirable articles. Mr Larcher's sale was the more
attractive in the fine weather because the house
stood just at the end of the town, with a garden
and stables attached, in that pleasant issue from
Middlemarch called the London Eoad, which
was also the road to the New Hospital and to
Mr Bulstrode's retired residence, known as the
Shrubs. In short, the auction was as good as a
fair, and drew all classes with leisure at command :
to some, who risked making bids in order simply
to raise prices, it was almost equal to betting at
the races. The second day, when the best fur-
niture was to be sold, "everybody" was there;
even Mr Thesiger, the rector of St Peter's, had
looked in for a short time, wishing to buy the
carved table, and had rubbed elbows with Mr
Bambridge and Mr Horrock. There was a wreath
of Middlemarch ladies accommodated with seats
round the large table in the dining-room, where
Mr Borthrop Trumbull was mounted with desk
and hammer ; but the rows chiefly of masculine
faces behind were often varied by incomings and
outgoings both from the door and the large bow-
window opening on to the lawn.
"Everybody" that day did not include Mr
Bulstrode, whose health could not well endure
crowds and draughts. But Mrs Bulstrode had
particularly wished to have a certain picture a
Supper at Emmaus, attributed in the catalogue to
Guido ; and at the last moment before the day of
the sale Mr Bulstrode had called at the office of the
' Pioneer/ of which he was now one of the proprie-
tors, to beg of Mr Ladislaw as a great favour that
he would obligingly use his remarkable knowledge
of pictures on behalf of Mrs Bulstrode, and judge
of the value of this particular painting " if," added
the scrupulously polite banker, "attendance at
the sale would not interfere with the arrangements
for your departure, which I know is imminent."
This proviso might have sounded rather satiri-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 321
cally in Will's ear if he had been in a mood to
care about such satire. It referred to an under-
standing entered into many weeks before with
the proprietors of the paper, that he should be
at liberty any day he pleased to hand over the
management to the sub-editor whom he had been
training ; since he wished finally to quit Middle-
march. But indefinite visions of ambition are
weak against the ease of doing what is habitual or
beguilingly agreeable ; and we all know the diffi-
culty of carrying out a resolve when we secretly
long that it may turn out to be unnecessary. In
such states of mind the most incredulous person
has a private leaning towards miracle : impossible
to conceive how our wish could be fulfilled, still
very wonderful things* have happened! Will
did not confess this weakness to himself, but he
lingered. What was the use of going to London
at that time of the year ? The Rugby men who
would remember him were not there ; and so far
as political writing was concerned, he would
rather for a few weeks go on with the ' Pioneer/
At the present moment, however, when Mr Bui-
strode was speaking to him, he had both a
strengthened resolve to go and an equally strong
resolve not to go till he had once more seen Doro-
VOL. in. x
thea. Hence he replied that he had reasons for
deferring his departure a little, and would be
happy to go to the sale.
Will was in a defiant mood, his consciousness
being deeply stung with the thought that the people
who looked at him probably knew a fact tanta-
mount to an accusation against him as a fellow
with low designs which were to be frustrated by
a disposal of property. Like most people who
assert their freedom with regard to conventional
distinction, he was prepared to be sudden and
quick at quarrel with any one who might hint
that he had personal reasons for that assertion
that there was anything in his blood, his bearing,
or his character to which he gave the mask of an
opinion. When he was under an irritating im-
pression of this kind he would go about for days
with a defiant look, the colour changing in his
transparent skin as if he were on the qui vive,
watching for something which he had to dart
This expression was peculiarly noticeable in
him at the sale, and those who had only seen him
in his moods of gentle oddity or of bright enjoy-
ment would have been struck with a contrast.
He was not sorry to have this occasion for appear-
ing in public before the Middlemarch tribes of
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 323
Toller, Hackbutt, and the rest, who looked down
on him as an adventurer, and were in a state of
brutal ignorance about Dante who sneered at
his Polish blood, and were themselves of a breed
very much in need of crossing. He stood in a
conspicuous place not far from the auctioneer,
with a fore -finger in each side-pocket and his
head thrown backward, not caring to speak to
anybody, though he had been cordially welcomed
as a connoissure by Mr Trumbull, who was enjoy-
ing the utmost activity of his great faculties.
And surely among all men whose vocation
requires them to exhibit their powers of speech,
the happiest is a prosperous provincial auctioneer
keenly alive to his own jokes and sensible of his
encyclopaedic knowledge. Some saturnine, sour-
blooded persons might object to be constantly
insisting on the merits of all articles from boot-
jacks to " Berghems ;" but Mr Borthrop Trumbull
had a kindly liquid in his veins ; he was an
admirer by nature, and would have liked to have
the universe under his hammer, feeling that it
would go at a higher figure for his recommendation.
Meanwhile Mrs Larcher's drawing-room furni-
ture was enough for him. When Will Ladislaw
had come in, a second fender, said to have been
forgotten in its right place, suddenly claimed the
auctioneer's enthusiasm, which he distributed on
the equitable principle of praising those things
most which were most in need of praise. The
fender was of polished steel, with much lancet-
shaped open-work and a sharp edge.
" Now, ladies," said he, " I shall appeal to you.
Here is a fender which at any other sale would
hardly be offered without reserve, being, as I may
say, for quality of steel and quaintness of design,
a kind of thing " here Mr Trumbull dropped his
voice and became slightly nasal, trimming his
outlines with his left finger " that might not fall
in with ordinary tastes. Allow me to tell you
that by-and-by this style of workmanship will be
the only one in vogue half-a-crown, you said?
thank you going at half-a-crown, this character-
istic fender ; and I have particular information
that the antique style is very much sought after
in high quarters. Three shillings three-and-six-
pence hold it well up, Joseph ! Look, ladies, at
the chastity of the design I have no doubt my-
self that it was turned out in the last century !
Four shillings, Mr Mawmsey ? four shillings/'
" It's not a thing I would put in my drawing-
room," said Mrs Mawmsey, audibly, for the warn-
ing of the rash husband. "I wonder at Mrs
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 325
Larcher. Every blessed child's head that fell
against it would be cut in two. The edge is like
"Quite true/' rejoined Mr Trumbull, quickly,
" and most uncommonly useful to have a fender
at hand that will cut, if you have a leather shoe-
tie or a bit of string that wants cutting and no
knife at hand : many a man has been left hanging
because there was no knife to cut him down.
Gentlemen, here's a fender that if you had the
misfortune to hang yourselves would cut you
down in no time with astonishing celerity four-
and-sixpence five five-and-sixpence an appro-
priate thing for a spare bedroom where there was
a four-poster and a guest a little out of his mind
six shillings thank you, Mr Clintup going at
six shillings going gone ! " The auctioneer's
glance, which had been searching round him with
a preternatural susceptibility to all signs of bid-
ding, here dropped on the paper before him, and
his voice too dropped into a tone of indifferent
despatch as he said, "Mr Clintup. Be handy,
" It was worth six shillings to have a fender
you could always tell that joke on," said Mr
Clintup, laughing low and apologetically to his
next neighbour. He was a diffident though dis-
tinguished nurseryman, and feared that the audi-
ence might regard his bid as a foolish one.
Meanwhile Joseph had brought a trayful of small
articles. "Now, ladies," said Mr Trumbull, taking
up one of the articles, " this tray contains a very
recherchy lot a collection of trifles for the draw-
ing-room table and trifles make the sum of
human things nothing more important than
trifles (yes, Mr Ladislaw, yes, by-and-by) but
pass the tray round, Joseph these bijoux must
be examined, ladies. This I have in my hand is
an ingenious contrivance a sort of practical re-
bus, I may call it : here, you see, it looks like an
elegant heart-shaped box, portable for the pocket;
there, again, it becomes like a splendid double
flower an ornament for the table ; and now "
Mr Trumbull allowed the flower to fall alarmingly
into strings of heart-shaped leaves "a book of
riddles ! No less than five hundred printed in
a beautiful red. Gentlemen, if I had less of a
conscience, I should not wish you to bid high for
this lot I have a longing for it myself. What
can promote innocent mirth, and I may say virtue,
more than a good riddle? it hinders profane
language, and attaches a man to the society of re-
fined females. This ingenious article itself, with-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 327
out the elegant domino-box, card-basket, &c., ought
alone to give a high price to the lot. Carried in
the pocket it might make an individual welcome
in any society. Four shillings, sir ? four shil-
lings for this remarkable collection of riddles with
the et cseteras. Here is a sample : ' How must
you spell honey to make it catch lady-birds ?
Answer money.' You hear ? lady-birds honey
money. This is an amusement to sharpen the
intellect ; it has a sting it is what we call satire,
and wit without indecency. Four-and-sixpence
The bidding ran on with warming rivalry. Mr
Bowyer was a bidder, and this was too exasperat-
ing. Bowyer couldn't afford it, and only wanted
to hinder every other man from making a figure.
The current carried even Mr Horrock with it, but
this committal of himself to an opinion fell from
him with so little sacrifice of his neutral expres-
sion, that the bid might not have been detected as
his but for the friendly oaths of Mr Bambridge,
who wanted to know what Horrock would do with
blasted stuff only fit for haberdashers given over
to that state of perdition which the horse-dealer
so cordially recognised in the majority of earthly
existences. The lot was finally knocked down at
a guinea to Mr Spilkins, a young Slender of the
neighbourhood, who was reckless with his pocket-
money and felt his want of memory for riddles.
" Come, Trumbull, this is too bad you've been
putting some old maid's rubbish into the sale,"
murmured Mr Toller, getting close to the auc-
tioneer. " I want to see how the prints go, and
I must be off soon."
" /mmediately, Mr Toller. It was only an act
of benevolence which your noble heart would
approve. Joseph! quick with the prints Lot
235. Now, gentlemen, you who are connoisswes,
you are going to have a treat. Here is an engrav-
ing of the Duke of Wellington surrounded by his
staff on the Field of Waterloo ; and notwithstand-
ing recent events which have, as it were, enveloped
our great Hero in a cloud, I will be bold to say
for a man in my line must not be blown about
by political winds that a finer subject of the
modern order, belonging to our own time and
epoch the understanding of man could hardly
conceive: angels might, perhaps, but not men,
sirs, not men."
" Who painted it ? " said Mr Powderell, much
" It is a proof before the letter, Mr Powderell
the painter is not known," answered Trumbull,
with a certain gaspingness in his last words, after
BOOK Vi. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 329
which he pursed up his lips and stared round
"I'll bid a pound!" said Mr Powderell, in a
tone of resolved emotion, as of a man ready to
put himself in the breach. Whether from awe or
pity, nobody raised the price on him.
Next came two Dutch prints which Mr Toller
had been eager for, and after he had secured them
he went away. Other prints, and afterwards some
paintings, were sold to leading Middlemarchers who
had come with a special desire for them, and there
was a more active movement of the audience in
and out ; some, who had bought what they wanted,
going away, others coming in either quite newly
or from a temporary visit to the refreshments
which were spread under the marquee on the
lawn. It was this marquee that Mr Bambridge
was bent on buying, and he appeared to like look-
ing inside it frequently, as a foretaste of its pos-
session. On the last occasion of his return from
it he was observed to bring with him a new com-
panion, a stranger to Mr Trumbull and every one
else, whose appearance, however, led to the sup-
position that he might be a relative of the horse-
dealer's also "given to indulgence." His large
whiskers, imposing swagger, and swing of the leg,
made him a striking figure ; but his suit of black,
rather shabby at the edges, caused the prejudicial
inference that he was not able to afford himself as
much indulgence as he liked.
" Who is it you've picked up, Bam ? " said Mr
"Ask him yourself," returned Mr Bambridge.
" He said he'd just turned in from the road."
Mr Horrock eyed the stranger, who was leaning
back against his stick with one hand, using his
toothpick with the other, and looking about him
with a certain restlessness apparently under the
silence imposed on him by circumstances.
At length the Supper at Emmaus was brought
forward, to Will's immense relief, for he was get-
ting so tired of the proceedings that he had drawn
back a little and leaned his shoulder against the
wall just behind the auctioneer. He now came
forward again, and his eye caught the conspicuous
stranger, who, rather to his surprise, was staring
at him markedly. But Will was immediately
appealed to by Mr TrumbulL
" Yes, Mr Ladislaw, yes ; this interests you as
a connoisswre, I think. It is some pleasure," the
auctioneer went on with a rising fervour, " to have
a picture like this to show to a company of ladies
and gentlemen a picture worth any sum to an
individual whose means were on a level with his
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 331
judgment. It is a painting of the Italian school
by the celebrated Gruydo, the greatest painter
in the world, the chief of the Old Masters, as
they are called I take it, because they were
up to a thing or two beyond most of us in
possession of secrets now lost to the bulk of
mankind. Let me tell you, gentlemen, I have
seen a great many pictures by the Old Masters,
and they are not all up to this mark some of
them are darker than you might like, and not
family subjects. But here is a Guy do the frame
alone is worth pounds which any lady might be
proud to hang up a suitable thing for what we
call a refectory in a charitable institution, if any
gentleman of the Corporation wished to show his
munificence. Turn it a little, sir ? yes. Joseph,
turn it a little towards Mr Ladislaw Mr Ladis-
law, having been abroad, understands the merit
of these things, you observe."
All eyes were for a moment turned towards
Will, who said, coolly, " Five pounds." The auc-
tioneer burst out in deep remonstrance
" Ah ! Mr Ladislaw ! the frame alone is worth
that. Ladies and gentlemen, for the credit of the
town! Suppose it should be discovered here-
after that a gem of art has been amongst us in this
town, and nobody in Middlemarch awake to it.
Five guineas five seven-six five ten. Still,
ladies, still ! It is a gem, and ' Full many a gem,'
as the poet says, has been allowed to go at a
nominal price because the public knew no better,
because it was offered in circles where there was
I was going to say a low feeling, but no ! Six
pounds six guineas a Guydo of the first order
going at six guineas it is an insult to religion,
ladies ; it touches us all as Christians, gentlemen,
that a subject like this should go at such a low
figure six pounds ten seven "
The bidding was brisk, and Will continued to
share in it, remembering that Mrs Bulstrode had
a strong wish for the picture, and thinking that
he might stretch the price to twelve pounds. But
it was knocked down to him at ten guineas, where-
upon he pushed his way towards the bow-window
and went out. He chose to go under the marquee
to get a glass of water, being hot and thirsty : it
was empty of other visitors, and he asked the
woman in attendance to fetch him some fresh
water; but before she was well gone Will was
annoyed to see entering the florid stranger who
had stared at him. It struck Will at this moment
that the man might be one of those political para-
sitic insects of the bloated kind who had once or
twice claimed acquaintance with him as having
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 333
heard him speak on the Eeform question, and who
might think of getting a shilling by news. In
this light his person, already rather heating to
behold on a summer's day, appeared the more
disagreeable ; and Will, half-seated on the elbow
of a garden-chair, turned his eyes carefully away
from the comer. But this signified little to our
acquaintance Mr Baffles, who never hesitated to
thrust himself on unwilling observation, if it
suited his purpose to do so. He moved a step or
two till he was in front of Will, and said with
full-mouthed haste, " Excuse me, Mr Ladislaw
was your mother's name Sarah Dunkirk ? "
Will, starting to his feet, moved backward a
step, frowning, and saying with some fierceness,
"Yes, sir, it was. And what is that to you?"
It was in Will's nature that the first spark it
threw out was a direct answer of the question and
a challenge of the consequences. To have said,
"What is that to you?" in the first instance,
would have seemed like shuffling as if he minded
who knew anything about his origin !
Baffles on his side had not the same eagerness
for a collision which was implied in Ladislaw's
threatening air. The slim young fellow with his
girl's complexion looked like a tiger-cat ready to
spring on him. Under such circumstances JNIr
Raffles's pleasure in annoying his company was
kept in abeyance.
" No offence, my good sir, no offence ! I only
remember your mother knew her when she was
a girl. But it is your father that you feature, sir.
I had the pleasure of seeing your father too.
Parents alive, Mr Ladislaw?"
" No ! " thundered Will, in the same attitude as
" Should be glad to do you a service, Mr Ladis-
law by Jove, I should ! Hope to meet again."
Hereupon Baffles, who had lifted his hat with
the last words, turned himself round with a swing
of his leg and walked away. Will looked after
him a moment, and could see that he did not
re-enter the auction-room, but appeared to be
walking towards the road. For an instant Will
thought that he had been foolish not to let the
man go on talking; but no! on the whole he
preferred doing without knowledge from that
Later in the evening, however, Eaffles overtook
him in the street, and appearing either to have
forgotten the roughness of his former reception or
to intend avenging it by a forgiving familiarity,
greeted him jovially and walked by his side, re-
marking at first on the pleasantness of the town
BOOK VI. TIIE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 335
and neighbourhood. Will suspected that the man
had been drinking, and was considering how to
shake him off when Baffles said
"I've been abroad myself, Mr Ladislaw I've
seen the world used to parley-vous a little. It
was at Boulogne I saw your father a most un-
common likeness you are of him, by Jove ! mouth
nose eyes hair turned off your brow just like
his a little in the foreign style. John Bull
doesn't do much of that. But your father was
very ill when I saw him. Lord, lord ! hands you
might see through. You were a small youngster
then. Did he get well ? "
" No/' said Will, curtly.
" Ah ! Well ! I've often wondered what be-
came of your mother. She ran away from her
friends when she was a young lass a proud-
spirited lass, and pretty, by Jove ! I knew the
reason why she ran away," said Baffles, winking
slowly as he looked sideways at Will.
" You know nothing dishonourable of her, sir,"
said Will, turning on him rather savagely. But
Mr Baffles just now was not sensitive to shades of
" Not a bit !" said he, tossing his head decisively.
" She was a little too honourable to like her friends
that was it ! " Here Baffles again winked slowly.
" Lord bless you, I knew all about 'em a little in
what you may call the respectable thieving line
the high style of receiving-house none of your
holes and corners first-rate. Slap-up shop, high
profits and no mistake. But Lord ! Sarah would
have known nothing about it a dashing young
lady she was fine boarding-school fit for a
lord's wife only Archie Duncan threw it at her
out of spite, because she would have nothing to
do with him. And so she ran away from the
whole concern. I travelled for 'em, sir, in a
gentlemanly way at a high salary. They didn't
mind her running away at first godly folks, sir,
very godly and she was for the stage. The son
was alive then, and the daughter was at a dis-
count. Hallo ! here we are at the Blue Bull.
What do you say, Mr Ladislaw ? shall we turn in
and have a glass ? "
" No, I must say good evening," said Will, dash-
ing up a passage which led into Lowick Gate, and
almost running to get out of Eaffles's reach.
He walked a long while on the Lowick Road
away from the town, glad of the starlit darkness
when it came. He felt as if he had had dirt
cast on him amidst shouts of scorn. There was
this to confirm the fellow's statement that his
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 337
mother never would tell him the reason why she
had run away from her family.
Well ! what was he, Will Ladislaw, the worse,
supposing the truth about that family to be the
ugliest ? His mother had braved hardship in
order to separate herself from it. But if Dorothea's
friends had known this story if the Chettams
had known it they would have had a fine colour
to give their suspicions, a welcome ground for
thinking him unfit to come near her. However,
let them suspect what they pleased, they would
find themselves in the wrong. They would find
out that the blood in his veins was as free from
the taint of meanness as theirs.
" Inconsistencies,' answered Imlac, cannot both be right, but imputed
to man they may both be true.'" Rasselas.
THE same night, when Mr Bulstrode returned from
a journey to Brassing on business, his good wife
met him in the entrance-hall and drew him into
his private sitting-room.
"Nicholas," she said, fixing her honest eyes
upon him anxiously, " there has been such a dis-
agreeable man here asking for you it has made
me quite uncomfortable."
" What kind of man, my dear ? " said Mr Bui-
strode, dreadfully certain of the answer.
"A red-faced man with large whiskers, and
most impudent in his manner. He declared he
was an old friend of yours, and said you would be
sorry not to see him. He wanted to wait for
you here, but I told him he could see you at the
Bank to-morrow morning. Most impudent, he
was ! stared at me, and said his friend Kick had
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 339
luck in wives. I don't believe lie would have
gone away, if Blucher had not happened to break
his chain and come running round on the gravel
for I was in the garden ; so I said, 'You'd better
go away the dog is very fierce, and I can't hold
him.' Do you really know anything of such a
" I believe I know who he is, my dear," said Mr
Bulstrode, in his usual subdued voice, " an unfor-
tunate, dissolute wretch, whom I helped too much
in days gone by. However, I presume you will
not be troubled by him again. He will probably
come to the Bank to beg, doubtless."
No more was said on the subject until the next
day, when Mr Bulstrode had returned from the
town and was dressing for dinner. His wife, not
sure that he was come home, looked into his dress-
ing-room and saw him with his coat and cravat off,
leaning one arm on a chest of drawers and staring
absently at the ground. He started nervously and
looked up as she entered.
"You look very ill, Nicholas. Is there any-
thing the matter ? "
" I have a good deal of pain in my head," said
Mr Bulstrode, who was so frequently ailing that
his wife was always ready to believe in this cause
" Sit down and let me sponge it with vinegar."
Physically Mr Bulstrode did not want the vine-
gar, but morally the affectionate attention soothed
him. Though always polite, it was his habit to
receive such services with marital coolness, as his
wife's duty. But to-day, while she was bending over
him, he- said, " You are very good, Harriet," in a
tone which had something new in it to her ear ;
she did not know exactly what the novelty was,
but her woman's solicitude shaped itself into a
darting thought that he might be going to have
" Has anything worried you ? " she said. " Did
that man come to you at the Bank ? "
" Yes ; it was as I had supposed. He is a man
who at one time might have done better. But he
has sunk into a drunken debauched creature."
" Is he quite gone away ? " said Mrs Bulstrode,
anxiously ; but certain conditions made her refrain
from adding, " It was ' very disagreeable to hear
him calling himself a friend of yours." At that
moment she would not have liked to say anything
which implied her habitual consciousness that her
husband's earlier connections were not quite on a
level with her own. Not that she knew much
about them. That her husband had at first been
employed in a bank, that he had afterwards en-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 34]
tered into what he called city business and gained
a fortune before he was three-and-thirty, that he
had married a widow who was much older than
himself, a Dissenter, and in other ways probably
of that disadvantageous quality usually percep-
tible in a first wife if inquired into with the dis-
passionate judgment of a second was almost as
much as she had cared to learn beyond the glimpses
which Mr Bulstrode's narrative occasionally gave
of his early bent towards religion, his inclination
to be a preacher, and his association with mission-
ary and philanthropic efforts. She believed in
him as an excellent man whose piety carried a
peculiar eminence in belonging to a layman, whose
influence had turned her own mind towards seri-
ousness, and whose share of perishable good had
been the means of raising her own position. But
she also liked to think that it was well in every
sense for Mr Bulstrode to have won the hand of
Harriet Vincy ; whose family was undeniable in
a Middlemarch light a better light surely than
any thrown in London thoroughfares or dissenting
chapel-yards. The unreformed provincial mind
distrusted London; and while true religion was
everywhere saving, honest Mrs Bulstrode was con-
vinced that to be saved in the Church was more
respectable. She so much wished to ignore to-
wards others that her husband had ever been a
London Dissenter, that she liked to keep it out of
sight even in talking to him. He was quite aware
of this ; indeed in some respects he was rather
afraid of this ingenuous wife, whose imitative piety
and native worldliness were equally sincere, who
had nothing to be ashamed of, and whom he had
married out of a thorough inclination still subsist-
ing. But his fears were such as belong to a man
who cares to maintain his recognised supremacy :
the loss of high consideration from his wife, as
from every one else who did not clearly hate him
out of enmity to the truth, would be as the begin-
ning of death to him. When she said
" Is he quite gone away ? "
" Oh, I trust so," he answered, with an effort to
throw as much sober unconcern into his tone as
But in truth Mr Bulstrode was very far from a
state of quiet trust. In the interview at the Bank,
Baffles had made it evident that his eagerness to
torment was almost as strong in him as any other
greed. He had frankly said that he had turned
out of the way to come to Middlemarch, just to
look about him and see whether the neighbour-
hood would suit him to live in. He had certainly
had a few debts to pay more than he expected,
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 343
but the two hundred pounds were not gone yet :
a cool five-and-twenty would suffice him to go
away with for the present. What he had wanted
chiefly was to see his friend Nick and family, and
know all about the prosperity of a man to whom
he was so much attached. By-and-by he might
come back for a longer stay. This time Raffles
declined to be " seen off the premises/' as he ex-
pressed it declined to quit Middlemarch under
Bulstrode's eyes. He meant to go by coach the
next day if he chose.
Bulstrode felt himself helpless. Neither threats
nor coaxing could avail: he could not count on
any persistent fear nor on any promise. On the
contrary, he felt a cold certainty at his heart that
Raffles unless Providence sent death to hinder
him would come back to Middlemarch before
long. And that certainty was a terror.
It was not that he was in danger of legal punish-
ment or of beggary : he was in danger only of see-
ing disclosed to the judgment of his neighbours
and the mournful perception of his wife certain
facts of his past life which would render him
an object of scorn and an opprobrium of the re-
ligion with which he had diligently associated
himself. The terror of being judged sharpens the
memory : it sends an inevitable glare over that
long-unvisited past which has been habitually
recalled only in general phrases. Even without
memory, the life is bound into one by a zone of
dependence in growth and decay; but intense
memory forces a man to own his blameworthy past.
With memory set smarting like a reopened wound,
a rnan!s past is not simply a dead history, an out-
worn preparation of the present : it is not a re-
pented error shaken loose from the life : it is a
still quivering part of himself, bringing shudders
and bitter flavours and the tinglings of a merited
Into this second life Bulstrode's past had now
risen, only the pleasures of it seeming to have lost
their quality. Night and day, without interrup-
tion save of brief sleep which only wove retrospect
and fear into a fantastic present, he felt the scenes
of his earlier life coming between him and every-
thing else, as obstinately as, when we look through
the window from a lighted room, the objects we
turn our backs on are still before us, instead of the
grass and the trees. The successive events inward
and outward were there in one view : though each
might be dwelt on in turn, the rest still kept their
hold in the consciousness.
Once more he saw himself the young banker's
clerk, with an agreeable person, as clever in figures
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 345
as he was fluent in speech and fond of theological
definition : an eminent though young member of a
Calvinistic dissenting church at Highbury, having
had striking experience in conviction of sin and
sense of pardon. Again he heard himself called for
as Brother Bulstrode in prayer meetings, speaking
on religious platforms, preaching in private houses.
Again he felt himself thinking of the ministry as
possibly his vocation, and inclined towards mis-
sionary labour. That was the happiest time of his
life : that was the spot he wo aid have chosen now
to awake in and find the rest a dream. The
people among whom Brother Bulstrode was distin-
guished were very few, but they were very near to
him, and stirred his satisfaction the more; his
power stretched through a narrow space, but he
felt its effect the more intensely. He believed
without effort in the peculiar work of grace within
him, and in the signs that God intended him for
Then came the moment of transition ; it was
with the sense of promotion he had when he, an
orphan educated at a commercial charity-school,
was invited to a fine villa belonging to Mr Dunkirk,
the richest man in the congregation. Soon he be-
came an intimate there, honoured for his piety by
the wife, marked out for his ability by the hus-
band, whose wealth was due to a flourishing city
and west-end trade. That was the setting-in of a
new current for his ambition, directing his pros-
pects of "instrumentality" towards the uniting
of distinguished religious gifts with successful
By-and-by came a decided external leading : a
confidential subordinate partner died, and nobody
seemed to the principal so well fitted to fill the
severely-felt vacancy as his young friend Bulstrode,
if he would become confidential accountant. The
offer was accepted. The business was a pawn-
broker's, of the most magnificent sort both in
extent and profits ; and on a short acquaintance
with it Bulstrode became aware that one source of
magnificent profit was the easy reception of any
goods offered, without strict inquiry as to where
they came from. But there was a branch house
at the west end, and no pettiness or dinginess to
give suggestions of shame.
He remembered his first moments of shrinking.
They were private, and were filled with argu-
ments ; some of these taking the form of prayer.
The business was established and had old roots ;
is it not one thing to set up a new gin-palace
and another to accept an investment in an old
one ? The profits made out of lost souls where
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 317
can the line be drawn at which they "begin in
human transactions ? Was it not even God's way
of saving His. chosen? "Thou knowest," the
young Bulstrode had said then, as the older Bui-
strode was saying now " Thou knowest how loose
my soul sits from these things how I view them
all as implements for tilling Thy garden rescued
here and there from the wilderness."
Metaphors and precedents were not wanting;
peculiar spiritual experiences were not wanting
which at last made the retention of his position
seem a service demanded of him : the vista of a
fortune had already opened itself, and Bulstrode's
shrinking remained private. Mr Dunkirk had
never expected that there would be any shrinking
at all: he had never conceived that trade had
anything to do with the scheme of salvation.
And it was true that Bulstrode found himself car-
rying on two distinct lives; his religious activity
could not be incompatible with his business as
soon as he had argued himself into not feeling it
Mentally surrounded with that past again, Bul-
strode had the same pleas indeed the years had
been perpetually spinning them into intricate
thickness, like masses of spider-web, padding
the moral sensibility; nay, as age made egoism
more eager but less enjoying, his soul had become
more saturated with the belief that he did every-
thing for God's sake, being indifferent to it for his
own. But yet if he could be back in that far-
off spot with his youthful poverty why, then
he would choose to be a missionary.
But the train of causes in which he had locked
himself went on. There was trouble in the fine
villa at Highbury. Years before the only daughter
had run away, defied her parents, and gone on the
stage; and now the only boy died, and after a
short time Mr Dunkirk died also. The wife, a
simple pious woman, left with all the wealth in
and out of the magnificent trade, of which she
never knew the precise nature, had come to believe
in Bulstrode, and innocently adore him as women
often adore their priest or "man-made" minister.
It was natural that after a time marriage should
have been thought of between them. But Mrs
Dunkirk had qualms and yearnings about her
daughter, who had long been regarded as lost both
to God and her parents. It was known that the
daughter had married, but she was utterly gone
out of sight. The mother, having lost her boy,
imagined a grandson, and wished in a double sense
to reclaim her daughter. If she were found, there
would be a channel for property perhaps a wide
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 349
one, in the provision for several grandchildren.
Efforts to find her must be made before Mrs
Dunkirk would marry again. Bulstrode con-
curred ; and advertisement as well as other modes
of inquiry were tried. But the mother believed
that she was not to be found, and consented to
marry without reservation of property.
The daughter had been found ; but only one
man besides Bulstrode knew it, and he was paid
for keeping silence and carrying himself away.
That was the bare fact which Bulstrode was now
forced to see in the rigid outline with which acts
present themselves to onlookers. But for himself
at that distant time, and even now in burning
memory, the fact was broken into little sequences,
each justified as it came by reasonings which
seemed to prove it righteous. Bulstrode's course
up to that time had, he thought, been sanctioned
by remarkable providences, appearing to point the
way for him to be the agent in making the best
use of a large property and withdrawing it from
perversion. Death and other striking dispositions,
such as feminine trustfulness, had come and
Bulstrode would have adopted Cromwell's words
" Do you call these bare events ? The Lord pity
you !" The events were comparatively small, but
the essential condition was there namely, that
they were in favour of his own ends. It was
easy for him to settle what was due from him to
others by inquiring what were God's intentions
with regard to himself. Could it be for God's
service that this fortune should in any consider-
able proportion go to a young woman and her
husband who were given up to the lightest pur-
suits, and might scatter it abroad in triviality
people who seemed to lie outside the path of re-
markable providences ? Bulstrode had never said
to himself beforehand, "The daughter shall not
be found" nevertheless when the moment came
he kept her existence hidden; and when other
moments followed, he soothed the mother with
consolation in the probability that the unhappy
young woman might be no more.
There were hours in which Bulstrode felt that
his action was unrighteous ; but how could he go
back? He had mental exercises, called himself
nought, laid hold on redemption, and went on in
his course of instrumentality. And after five
years Death again came to widen his path, by
taking away his wife. He did gradually withdraw
his capital, but he did not make the sacrifices
requisite to put an end to the business, which was
carried on for thirteen years afterwards before
it finally collapsed. Meanwhile Nicholas Bui-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 351
strode had used his hundred thousand discreetly,
and was become provincially, solidly important
a banker, a Churchman, a public benefactor ; also
a sleeping partner in trading concerns, in which
his ability was directed to economy in the raw
material, as in the case of the dyes which rotted
Mr Vincy's silk. And now, when this respect-
ability had lasted undisturbed for nearly thirty
years when all that preceded it had long lain
benumbed in the consciousness that past had
risen and immersed his thought as if with the
terrible irruption of a new sense overburthening
the feeble being.
Meanwhile, in his conversation with Baffles,
he had learned something momentous, something
which entered actively into the struggle of his
longings and terrors. There, he thought, lay an
opening towards spiritual, perhaps towards ma-
The spiritual kind of rescue was a genuine need
with him. There may be coarse hypocrites, who
consciously affect beliefs and emotions for the
sake of gulling the world, but Bulstrode was not
one of them. He was simply a man whose de-
sires had been stronger than his theoretic beliefs,
and who had gradually explained the gratification
of his desires into satisfactory agreement with
those beliefs. If this be hypocrisy, it is a process
which shows itself occasionally in us all, to what-
ever confession we belong, and whether we believe
in the future perfection of our race or in the
nearest date fixed for the end of the world ; whe-
ther we regard the earth as a putrefying nidus
for a saved remnant, including ourselves, or have
a passionate belief in the solidarity of mankind.
The service he could do to the cause of religion
had been through life the ground he alleged to
himself for his choice of action : it had been the
motive which he had poured out in his prayers.
Who would use money and position better than
he meant to use them ? Who could surpass him
in self-abhorrence and exaltation of God's cause ?
And to Mr Bulstrode God's cause was something
distinct from his own rectitude of conduct: it
enforced a discrimination of God's enemies, who
were to be used merely as instruments, and whom
it would be as well if possible to keep out of
money and consequent influence. Also; profit-
able investments in trades where the power of
the prince of this world showed its most active
devices, became sanctified by a right application
of the profits in the hands of God's servant.
This implicit reasoning is essentially no more
peculiar to evangelical belief than the use of wide
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 353
phrases for narrow motives is peculiar to English-
men. There is no general doctrine which is not
capable of eating out our morality if unchecked
by the deep-seated habit of direct fellow-feeling
with individual fellow-men.
But a man who believes in something else than
his own greed, has necessarily a conscience or
standard to which he more or less adapts himself.
Bulstrode's standard had been his serviceable-
ness to God's cause : " I am sinful and nought
a vessel to be consecrated by use but use me !"
had been the mould into which he had con-
strained his immense need of being something
important and predominating. And now had come
a moment in which that mould seemed in danger
of being broken and utterly cast away.
What, if the acts he had reconciled himself to
because they made him a stronger instrument of
the divine glory, were to become the pretext of
the scoffer, and a darkening of that glory ? If this
were to be the ruling of Providence, he was cast
out from the temple as one who had brought
He had long poured out utterances of repent-
ance. But to-day a repentance had come which
was of a bitterer flavour, and a threatening Provi-
dence urged him to a kind of propitiation which
VOL. III. Z
was not simply a doctrinal transaction. The
divine tribunal had changed its aspect for him ;
self-prostration was no longer enough, and he
must bring restitution in his hand. It was really
before his God that Bulstrode was about to
attempt such restitution as seemed possible : a
great -dread had seized his susceptible frame, and
the scorching approach of shame wrought in him
a new spiritual need. Night and day, while the
resurgent threatening past was making a con-
science within him, he was thinking by what
means he could recover peace and trust by what
sacrifice he could stay the rod. His belief in
these moments of dread was, that if he sponta-
neously did something right, God would save
him from the consequences of wrong-doing. For
religion can only change when the emotions
which fill it are changed; and the religion of
personal fear remains nearly at the level of the
He had seen Baffles actually going away on the
Brassing coach, and this was a temporary relief ;
it removed the pressure of an immediate dread, but
did not put an end to the spiritual conflict and
the need to win protection. At last he came to a
difficult resolve, and wrote a letter to Will Ladis-
law, begging him to be at the Shrubs that even-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 355
ing for a private interview at nine o'clock. Will
had felt no particular surprise at the request, and
connected it with some new notions about the
' Pioneer ; ' but when he was shown into Mr Bul-
strode's private room, he was struck with the
painfully worn look on the banker's face, and
was going to say, "Are you ill?" when, checking
himself in that abruptness, he only inquired after
Mrs Bulstrode, and her satisfaction with the pic-
ture bought for her.
" Thank you, she is quite satisfied ; she is gone
out with her daughters this evening. I begged
you to come, Mr Ladislaw, because I have a com-
munication of a very private indeed, I will say,
of a sacredly confidential nature, which I desire
to make to you. Nothing, I daresay, has been
farther from your thoughts than that there had
been important ties in the past which could con-
nect your history with mine."
Will felt something like an electric shock. He
was already in a state of keen sensitiveness and
hardly allayed agitation on the subject of ties in
the past, and his presentiments were not agree-
able. It seemed like the fluctuations of a dream
as if the action begun by that loud bloated
stranger were being carried on by this palezfiyed-
sickly-looking piece of respectability, whose sub-
dued tone and glib formality of speech were
this moment almost as repulsive to him as their
remembered contrast. He answered, with a marked
change of colour
" No, indeed, nothing."
" You see before you, Mr Ladislaw, a man who
is deeply stricken. But for the urgency of con-
science and the knowledge that I am before the
bar of One who seeth not as man seeth, I should
be under no compulsion to make the disclosure
which has been my object in asking you to come
here to-night. So far as human laws go, you have
no claim on me whatever."
Will was even more uncomfortable than won-
dering. Mr Bulstrode had paused, leaning his
head on his hand, and looking at the floor. But
he now fixed his examining glance on Will and
" I am told that your mother's name was Sarah
Dunkirk, and that she ran away from her friends
to go on the stage. Also, that your father was at
one time much emaciated by illness. May I ask
if you can confirm these statements ? "
" Yes, they are all true," said Will, struck with
the order in which an inquiry had come, that
might have been expected to be preliminary to
the banker's previous hints. But Mr Bulstrode
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 357
had to-night followed the order of his emotions ;
he entertained no doubt that the opportunity for
restitution had come, and he had an overpowering
impulse towards the penitential expression by
which he was deprecating chastisement.
" Do you know any particulars of your mother's
family ? " he continued.
" No ; she never liked to speak of them. She
was a very generous, honourable woman," said
Will, almost angrily.
" I do not wish to allege anything against her.
Did she never mention her mother to you at all?"
"I have heard her say that she thought her
mother did not know the reason of her running
away. She said 'poor mother/ in a pitying tone."
" That mother became my wife," said Bulstrode,
arid then paused a moment before he added, "you
have a claim on me, Mr Ladislaw : as I said be-
fore, not a legal claim, but one which my con-
science recognises. I was enriched by that mar-
riage a result which would probably not have
taken place certainly not to the same extent
if your grandmother could have discovered her
daughter. That daughter, I gather, is no longer
" No," said Will, feeling suspicion and repug-
nance rising so strongly within him, that without
quite knowing what he did, he took his hat from
the floor and stood up. The impulse within him
was to reject the disclosed connection.
Pray be seated, Mr Ladislaw," said Bulstrode,
anxiously. "Doubtless you are startled by the
suddenness of this discovery. But I entreat your
patience with a man already bowed down by
Will reseated himself, feeling some pity which
was half contempt for this voluntary self-abase-
ment of an elderly man.
" It is my wish, Mr Ladislaw, to make amends
for the deprivation which befell your mother. I
know that you are without fortune, and I wish to
supply you adequately from a store which would
have probably already been yours had your grand-
mother been certain of your mother's existence
ajid been able to find her."
Mr Bulstrode paused. He felt that ne was per-
forming a striking piece of scrupulosity in the
judgment of his auditor, and a penitential act in
the eyes of God. He had no clue to the state of
Will Ladislaw's mind, smarting as it was from the
clear hints of Eaffles, and with its natural quick-
ness in construction stimulated by the expectation
of discoveries which he would have been glad to
conjure back into darkness. Will made no answer
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 359
for several moments, till Mr Bulstrode, who at the
end of his speech had cast his eyes on the floor,
now raised them with an examining glance, which
Will met fully, saying
" I suppose you did know of my mother's ex-
istence, and knew where she might have been
Bulstrode shrank there was a visible quiver-
ing in his face and hands. He was totally un-
prepared to have his advances met in this way, or
to find himself urged into more revelation than
he had beforehand set down as needful. But at
that moment he dared not tell a lie, and he felt
suddenly uncertain of his ground which he had
trodden with some confidence before.
" I will not deny that you conjecture rightly,"
he answered, with a faltering in his tone. " And
I wish to make atonement to you as the one
still remaining who has suffered a loss through
me. You enter, I trust, into my purpose, Mr
Ladislaw, which has a reference to higher than
merely human claims, and as I have already said,
is entirely independent of any legal compulsion.
I am ready to narrow my own resources and the
prospects of my family by binding myself to allow
you five hundred pounds yearly during my life,
and to leave you a proportional capital at my
death nay, to do still more, if more should be
definitely necessary to any laudable project on
your part." Mr Bulstrode had gone on to parti-
culars in the expectation that these would work
strongly on Ladislaw, and merge other feelings in
But- Will was looking as stubborn as possible,
with his lip pouting and his fingers in his side-
pockets. He was not in the least touched, and
" Before I make any reply to your proposition,
Mr Bulstrode, I must beg you to answer a ques-
tion or two. Were you connected with the busi-
ness by which that fortune you speak of was
originally made \ "
Mr Bulstrode's thought was, " Baffles has told
him." How could he refuse to answer when he
had volunteered what drew forth the question?
He answered, "Yes."
"And was that business or was it not a
thoroughly dishonourable one nay, one that, if
its nature had been made public, might have
ranked those concerned in it with thieves and
convicts ? "
Will's tone had a cutting bitterness : he was
moved to put his question as nakedly as he could.
Bulstrode reddened with irrepressible anger.
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 361
He had been prepared for a scene of self-abase-
ment, but his intense pride and his habit of
supremacy overpowered penitence, and even dread,
when this young man, whom he had meant to
benefit, turned on him with the air of a judge.
" The business was established before I became
connected with it, sir ; nor is it for you to institute
an inquiry of that kind," he answered, not raising
his voice, but speaking with quick defiantness.
" Yes, it is," said Will, starting up again with
his hat in his hand. " It is eminently mine to ask
such questions, when I have to decide whether I
will have transactions with you and accept your
money. My unblemished honour is important to
me. It is important to me tohave no stairTftn
my birth and connections. And now I find there
is a stain which I can't help. My mother felt it,
and tried to keep as clear of it as she could, and
so will I. You shall keep your ill-gotten money.
If I had any fortune of my own, I would willingly
pay it to any one who could disprove what you
have told me. "What I have to thank you for is
that you kept the money till now, when I can
refuse it. It ought to lie with a man's self that
he is a gentleman. Good-night, sir."
Bulstrode was going to speak, but Will with
determined quickness was out of the room in an
instant, and in another the hall-door had closed
behind him. He was too strongly possessed with
passionate rebellion against this inherited blot
which had been thrust on his knowledge to reflect
at present whether he had not been too hard on
Bulstrode too arrogantly merciless towards a
man of sixty, who was making efforts at retrieval
when time had rendered them vain.
No third person listening could have thoroughly
understood the impetuosity of Will's repulse or
the bitterness of his words. No one but himself
then knew how everything connected with the
sentiment of his own dignity had an immediate
bearing for him on his relation to Dorothea and to
Mr Casaubon's treatment of him. And in the
rush of impulses by which he flung back that
offer of Bulstrode's, there was mingled the sense
that it would have been impossible for him ever
to tell Dorothea that he had accepted it.
As for Bulstrode when Will was gone he suf-
fered a violent reaction, and wept like a woman.
It was the first time he had encountered an open
expression of scorn from any man higher than
Baffles ; and with that scorn hurrying like venom
through his system, there was no sensibility left
to consolations. But the relief of weeping had
to be checked. His wife and daughters soon
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 363
came home from hearing the address of an Ori-
ental missionary, and were full of regret that
papa had not heard, in the first instance, the
interesting things which they tried to repeat to
Perhaps, through all other hidden thoughts, the
one that breathed most comfort was, that Will
Ladislaw at least was not likely to publish what
had taken place that evening.
' He was a squyer of low e degre,
That loved the king's daughter of Hungrie."
WILL Ladislaw's mind was now wholly bent on
seeing Dorothea again, and forthwith quitting
Middlemarch. The morning after his agitating
scene with Bulstrode he wrote a brief letter to her,
saying that various causes had detained him in the
neighbourhood longer than he had expected, and
asking her permission to call again at Lowick at
some hour which she would mention on the earliest
possible day, he being anxious to depart, but un-
willing to do so until she had granted him an
interview. He left the letter at the office, order-
ing the messenger to carry it to Lowick Manor,
and wait for an answer.
Ladislaw felt the awkwardness of asking for
more last words. His former farewell had been
made in the hearing of Sir James Chettam, and had
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 365
been announced as final even to the butler. It is
certainly trying to a man's dignity to reappear
when he is not expected to do so : a first farewell
has pathos in it, but to come back for a second
lends an opening to comedy, and it was possible
even that there might be bitter sneers afloat about
Will's motives for lingering. Still it was on the
whole more satisfactory to his feeling to take the
directest means of seeing Dorothea, rather than to
use any device which might give an air of chance
to a meeting of which he wished her to understand
that it was what he earnestly sought. When he had
parted from her before, he had been in ignorance
of facts which gave a new aspect to the relation
between them, and made a more absolute severance
than he had then believed in. He knew nothing
of Dorothea's private fortune, and being little used
to reflect on such matters, took it for granted that
according to Mr Casaubon's arrangement marriage
to him, Will Ladislaw, would mean that she
consented to be penniless. That was not what he
could wish for even in his secret heart, or even if
she had been ready to meet such hard contrast for
his sake. And then, too, there was the fresh smart
of that disclosure about his mother's family, which
if known would be an added reason why Doro-
thea's friends should look down upon him as
utterly below her. The secret hope that after
some years he might come back with the sense
that he had at least a personal value equal to her
wealth, seemed now the dreamy continuation of a
dream. This change would surely justify him in
asking Dorothea to receive him once more.
But- Dorothea on that morning was not at home
to receive Will's note. In consequence of a letter
from her uncle announcing his intention to be at
home in a week, she had driven first to Freshitt to
carry the news, meaning to go on to the Grange to
deliver some orders with which her uncle had in-
trusted her thinking, as he said, " a little mental
occupation of this sort good for a widow."
If Will Ladislaw could have overheard some of
the talk at Freshitt that morning, he would have
felt all his suppositions confirmed as to the readi-
ness of certain people to sneer at his lingering in
the neighbourhood. Sir James, indeed, though
much relieved concerning Dorothea, had been on
the watch to learn Ladislaw's movements, and had
an instructed informant in Mr Standish, who was
necessarily in his confidence on this matter. That
Ladislaw had stayed in Middlemarch nearly two
months after he had declared that he was going
immediately, was a fact to embitter Sir James's
suspicions, or at least to justify his aversion to a
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 367
" young fellow " whom he represented to himself
as slight, volatile, and likely enough to show such
recklessness as naturally went along with a posi-
tion unriveted by family ties or a strict profession.
But he had just heard something from Standish
which, while it justified these surmises about Will,
offered a means of nullifying all danger with regard
Unwonted circumstances may make us all
rather unlike ourselves : there are conditions under
which the most majestic person is obliged to
sneeze, and our emotions are liable to be acted
on in the same incongruous manner. Good Sir
James was this morning so far unlike himself that
he was irritably anxious to say something to Doro-
thea on a subject which he usually avoided as if
it had been a matter of shame to them both. He
could not use Celia as a medium, because he did
not choose that she should know the kind of gossip
he had in his mind ; and before Dorothea happened
to arrive he had been trying to imagine how, with
his shyness and unready tongue, he could ever
manage to introduce his communication. Her
unexpected presence brought him to utter hope-
lessness in his own power of saying anything un-
pleasant ; but desperation suggested a resource ;
he sent the groom on an unsaddled horse across
the park with a pencilled note to Mrs Cadwallader,
who already knew the gossip, and would think it
no compromise of herself to repeat it as often as
Dorothea was detained on the good pretext that
Mr Garth, whom she wanted to see, was expected
at the hall within the hour, and she was still talk-
ing to Caleb on the gravel when Sir James, on the
watch for the rector's wife, saw her coming and
met her with the needful hints.
"Enough! I understand," said Mrs Cadwal-
lader. " You shall be innocent. I am such a
blackamoor that I cannot smirch myself."
" I don't mean that it's of any consequence," said
Sir James, disliking that Mrs Cadwallader should
understand too much. " Only it is desirable that
Dorothea should know there are reasons why she
should not receive him again ; and I really can't
say so to her. It will come lightly from you."
It came very lightly indeed. When Dorothea
quitted Caleb and turned to meet them, it appeared
that Mrs Cadwallader had stepped across the park
by the merest chance in the world, just to chat
with Celia in a matronly way about the baby.
And so Mr Brooke was coming back ? Delightful !
coming back, it was to be hoped, quite cured of
Parliamentary fever and pioneering. Apropos of
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 369
the f Pioneer.' somebody had prophesied that it
would soon be like a dying dolphin, and turn all
colours for want of knowing how to help itself,
because Mr Brooke's proUgt,, the brilliant young
Ladislaw, was gone or going. Had Sir James
The three were walking along the gravel slowly,
and Sir James, turning aside to whip a shrub, said
he had heard something of that sort.
"All false!" said Mrs Cadwallader. "He is
not gone or going, apparently ; the * Pioneer '
keeps its colour, and Mr Orlando Ladislaw is
making a sad dark-blue scandal by warbling con-
tinually with your Mr Lydgate's wife, who they
tell me is as pretty as pretty can be. It seems
nobody ever goes into the house without finding
this young gentleman lying on the rug or warbling
at the piano. But the people in manufacturing
towns are always disreputable."
" You began by saying that one report was false,
Mrs Cadwallader, and I believe this is false too,"
said Dorothea, with indignant energy ; " at least,
I feel sure it is a misrepresentation. I will not
hear any evil spoken of Mr Ladislaw; he has
already suffered too much injustice."
Dorothea when thoroughly moved cared little
what any one thought of her feelings ; and even if
VOL. in. 2 A
she had been able to reflect, she would have held
it petty to keep silence at injurious words about
Will from fear of being herself misunderstood.
Her face was flushed and her lip trembled.
Sir James, glancing at her, repented of his
stratagem; but Mrs Cadwallader, equal to all oc-
casions, spread the palms of her hands outward
and said, " Heaven grant it, my dear ! I mean
that all bad tales about anybody may be false.
But it is a pity that young Lydgate should have
married one of these Middlemarch girls. Consi-
dering he's a son of somebody, he might have got
a woman with good blood in her veins, and not
too young, who would have put up with his pro-
fession. There's Clara Harfager, for instance,
whose friends don't know what to do with her ; and
she has a portion. Then we might have had her
among us. However ! it's no use being wise for
other people. Where is Celia ? Pray let us go in."
" I am going on immediately to Tipton," said
Dorothea, rather haughtily. " Good-bye."
Sir James could say nothing as he accompanied
her to the carriage. He was altogether discon-
tented with the result of a contrivance which had
cost him some secret humiliation beforehand.
Dorothea drove along between the berried hedge-
rows and the shorn corn-fields, not seeing or hear-
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 371
ing anything around. The tears came and rolled
down her cheeks, but she did not know it. The
world, it seemed, was turning ugly and hateful,
and there was no place for her trustfulness. " It
is not true it is not true ! " was the voice within
her that she listened to ; but all the while a re-
membrance to which there had always clung a
vague uneasiness would thrust itself on her atten-
tion the remembrance of that day when she had
found Will Ladislaw with Mrs Lydgate, and had
heard his voice accompanied by the piano.
"He said he would never do anything that
I disapproved I wish I could have told him
that I disapproved of that," said poor Dorothea,
inwardly, feeling a strange alternation between
anger with Will and the passionate defence of
him. " They all try to blacken him before me ;
but I will care for no pain, if he is not to blame.
I always believed he was good." These were her
last thoughts before she felt that the carriage was
passing under the archway of the lodge-gate at the
Grange, when she hurriedly pressed her handker-
chief to her face and began to think of her errands.
The coachman begged leave to take out the horses
for half an hour as there was something wrong
with a shoe ; and Dorothea, having the sense that
she was going to rest, took off her gloves and bon-
net, while she was leaning against a statue in the
entrance-hall, and talking to the housekeeper. At
last she said
" I must stay here a little, Mrs Kell. I will go
into the library and write you some memoranda
from my uncle's letter, if you will open the
shutters for me."
"The shutters are open, madam," said Mrs
Kell, following Dorothea, who had walked along
as she spoke. " Mr Ladislaw is there, looking for
(Will had come to fetch a portfolio of his own
sketches which he had missed in the act of pack-
ing his movables, and did not choose to leave
Dorothea's heart seemed to turn over as if it
had had a blow, but she was not perceptibly
checked : in truth, the sense that Will was there
was for the moment all - satisfying to her, like
the sight of something precious that one has lost.
When she reached the door she said to Mrs
" Go in first, and tell him that I am here."
Will had found his portfolio, and had laid it on
the table at the far end of the room, to turn over
the sketches and please himself by looking at the
memorable piece of art which had a relation to
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 373
nature too mysterious for Dorothea. He was smil-
ing at it still, and shaking the sketches into order
with the thought that he might find a letter from
her awaiting him at Middlemarch, when Mrs Kell
close to his elbow said
" Mrs Casaubon is coming in, sir."
Will turned round quickly, and the next
moment Dorothea was entering. As Mrs Kell
closed the door behind her they met : each was
looking at the other, and consciousness was over-
flowed by something that suppressed utterance.
It was not confusion that kept them silent, for
they both felt that parting was near, and there is
no shamefacedness in a sad parting.
She moved automatically towards her uncle's
chair against the writing-table, and Will, after
drawing it out a little for her, went a few paces
off and stood opposite to her.
"Pray sit down," said Dorothea, crossing her
hands on her lap ; "I am very glad you were
here." Will thought that her face looked just as
it did when she first shook hands with him in
Eome ; for her widow's cap, fixed in her bonnet,
had gone off with it, and he could see that she
had lately been shedding tears. But the mixture
of anger in her agitation had vanished at the
sight of him ; she had been used, when they were
face to face, always to feel confidence and the
happy freedom which comes with mutual under-
standing, and how could other people's words
hinder that effect on a sudden ? Let the music
which can take possession of our frame and fill
the air with joy for us, sound once more what
does it signify that we heard it found fault with
in its absence ?
" I have sent a letter to Lowick Manor to-day,
asking leave to see you," said Will, seating him-
self opposite to her. " I am going away imme-
diately, and I could not go without speaking to
" I thought we had parted when you came to
Lowick many weeks ago you thought you were
going then/' said Dorothea, her voice trembling a
" Yes ; "but I was in ignorance then of things
which I know now things which have altered my
feelings about the future. When I saw you
before, I was dreaming that I might come back
some day. I don't think I ever shall now."
Will paused here.
" You wished me to know the reasons ? " said
"Yes," said Will, impetuously, shaking his
head backward, and looking away from her with
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 375
irritation in his face. " Of course I must wish it.
I have been grossly insulted in your eyes and in
the eyes of others. There has been a mean impli-
cation against my character. I wish you to know
that under no circumstances would I have low-
ered myself by under no circumstances would I
have given men the chance of saying that I
sought money under the pretext of seeking
something else. There was no need of other
safeguard against me the safeguard of wealth
Will rose from his chair with the last word and
went he hardly knew where ; but it was to the
projecting window nearest him, which had been
open as now about the same season a year ago,
when he and Dorothea had stood within it and
talked together. Her whole heart was going
out at this moment in sympathy with Will's in-
dignation : she only wanted to convince him that
she had never done him injustice, and he seemed
to have turned away from her as if she too had
been part of the unfriendly world.
" It would be very unkind of you to suppose
that I ever attributed any meanness to you," she
began. Then in her ardent way, wanting to plead
with him, she moved from her chair and went in
front of him to her old place in the window, say-
ing, " Do you suppose that I ever disbelieved in
When Will saw her there, he gave a start and
moved backward out of the window, without
meeting her glance. Dorothea was hurt by this
movement following up the previous anger of his
tone. .She was ready to say that it was as hard
on her as on him, and that she was helpless ; but
those strange particulars of their relation which
neither of them could explicitly mention kept her
always in dread of saying too much. At this mo-
ment she had no belief that Will would in any case
have wanted to marry her, and she feared using
words which might imply such a belief. She
only said earnestly, recurring to his last word
" I am sure no safeguard was ever needed against
Will did not answer. In the stormy fluctuation
of his feelings these words of hers seemed to
him cruelly neutral, and he looked pale and miser-
able after his angry outburst. He went to the
table and fastened up his portfolio, while Dorothea
looked at him from the distance. They were wast-
ing these last moments together in wretched silence.
What could he say, since what had got obstinately
uppermost in his mind was the passionate love for
her which he forbade himself to utter? What
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 377
could she say, since she might offer him no help
since she was forced to keep the money that ought
to have been his ? since to-day he seemed not to
respond as he used to do to her thorough trust
and liking ?
But Will at last turned away from his portfolio
and approached the window again.
" I must go," he said, with that peculiar look of
the eyes which sometimes accompanies bitter feel-
ing, as if they had been tired and burned with
gazing too close at a light.
"What shall you do in life?" said Dorothea,
timidly. "Have your intentions remained just
the same as when we said good-bye before?"
"Yes," said Will, in a tone that seemed to waive
the subject as uninteresting. " I shall work away
at the first thing that offers. I suppose one gets
a habit of doing without happiness or hope."
"Oh, what sad words !" said Dorothea, with a
dangerous tendency to sob. Then trying to smile,
she added, " We used to agree that we were alike
in speaking too strongly."
"I have not spoken too strongly now," said
Will, leaning back against the angle of the wall.
" There are certain things which a man can only
go through once in his life ; and he must know
some time or other that the best is over with him.
This experience has happened to me while I am
very young that is all What I care more about
than I can ever care for anything else is absolutely
forbidden to me I don't mean merely by being
out of my reach, but forbidden me, even if it were
within my reach, by my own pride and honour
by everything I respect myself for. Of course I
shall go on living as a man might do who had
seen heaven in a trance."
Will paused, imagining that it would be impossi-
ble for Dorothea to misunderstand this ; indeed he
felt that he was contradicting himself and offend-
ing against his self-approval in speaking to her so
plainly; but still it could not be fairly called
wooing a woman to tell her that he would never
woo her. It must be admitted to be a ghostly kind
But Dorothea's mind was rapidly going over the
past with quite another vision than his. The
thought that she herself might be what Will most
cared for did throb through her an instant, but
then came doubt : the memory of the little they
had lived through together turned pale and shrank
before the memory which suggested how much
fuller might have been the intercourse between
Will and some one else with whom he had had
constant companionship. Everything he had said
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 379
might refer to that other relation, and whatever
had passed between him and herself was thoroughly
explained by what she had always regarded as
their simple friendship and the cruel obstruction
thrust upon it by her husband's injurious act.
Dorothea stood silent, with her eyes cast down
dreamily, while images crowded upon her which
left the sickening certainty that Will was referring
to Mrs Lydgate. But why sickening ? He wanted
her to know that here too his conduct should be
Will was not surprised at her silence. His
mind also was tumultuously busy while he watched
her, and he was feeling rather wildly that some-
thing must happen to hinder their parting some
miracle, clearly nothing in their own deliberate
speech. Yet, after all, had she any love for him ?
he could not pretend to himself that he would
rather believe her to be without that pain. He could
not deny that a secret longing for the assurance
that she loved him was at the root of all his words.
Neither of them knew how long they stood in
that way. Dorothea was raising her eyes, and
was about to speak, when the door opened and
her footman came to say
" The horses are ready, madam, whenever you
like to start."
"Presently," said Dorothea. Then turning to
Will, she said, " I have some memoranda to write
for the housekeeper."
"I must go," said Will, when the door had
closed again advancing towards her. " The day
after to-morrow I shall leave Middlemarch."
"You have acted in every way rightly," said
Dorothea, in a low tone, feeling a pressure at her
heart which made it difficult to speak.
She put out her hand, and Will took it for an
instant without speaking, for her words had seemed
to him cruelly cold and unlike herself. Their
eyes met, but there was discontent in his, and in
hers there was only sadness. He turned away
and took his portfolio under his arm.
" I have never done you injustice. Please re-
member me," said Dorothea, repressing a rising
" Why should you say that ? " said Will, with
irritation. "As if I were not in danger of for-
getting everything else."
He had really a movement of anger against
her at that moment, and it impelled him to go
away without pause. It was all one flash to
Dorothea his last words his distant bow to her
as he reached the door the sense that he was no
longer there. She sank into the chair, and for a
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 381
few moments sat like a statue, while images and
emotions were hurrying upon her. Joy came first,
in spite of the threatening train behind it joy in
the impression that it was really herself whom
Will loved and was renouncing, that there was
really no other love less permissible, more blame-
worthy, which honour was hurrying him away
from. They were parted all the same, but Doro-
thea drew a deep breath and felt her strength re-
turn she could think of him unrestrainedly. At
that moment the parting was easy to bear : the
first sense of loving and being loved excluded
sorrow. It was as if some hard icy pressure had
melted, and her consciousness had room to expand:
her past was come back to her with larger inter-
pretation. The joy was not the less perhaps it
was the more complete just then because of the
irrevocable parting ; for there was no reproach,
no contemptuous wonder to imagine in any eye
or from any lips. He had acted so as to defy
reproach, and make wonder respectful
Any one watching her might have seen that
there was a fortifying thought within her. Just
as when inventive power is working with glad
ease some small claim on the attention is fulfilled
as if it were only a cranny opened to the sunlight,
it was easy now for Dorothea to write her memor-
anda. She spoke her last words to the house-
keeper in cheerful tones, and when she seated her-
self in the carriage her eyes were bright and her
cheeks blooming under the dismal bonnet. She
threw back the heavy " weepers/' and looked be-
fore her, wondering which road Will had taken.
It was in her nature to be proud that he was
blameless, and through all her feelings there ran
this vein " I was right to defend him."
The coachman was used to drive his greys at
a good pace, Mr Casaubon being unenjoying and
impatient in everything away from his desk, and
wanting to get to the end of all journeys ; and Do-
rothea was now bowled along quickly. Driving
was pleasant, for rain in the night had laid the
dust, and the blue sky looked far off, away from
the region of the great clouds that sailed in masses.
The earth looked like a happy place under the
vast heavens, and Dorothea was wishing that she
might overtake Will and see him once more.
After a turn of the road, there he was with the
portfolio under his arm ; but the next moment
she was passing him while he raised his hat, and
she felt a pang at being seated there in a sort of
exaltation, leaving him behind. She could not
look back at him. It was as if a crowd of indif-
ferent objects had thrust them asunder, and
BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 383
forced them along different paths, taking them
farther and farther away from each other, and
making it useless to look back. She could no
more make any sign that would seem to say, "Need
we part?" than she could stop the carriage to wait
for him. Nay, what a world of reasons crowded
upon her against any movement of her thought
towards a future that might reverse the decision
of this day !
" I only wish I had known "before I wish he
knew then we could be quite happy in think-
ing of each other, though we are for ever parted.
And if I could but have given him the money,
and made things easier for him ! " were the long-
ings that came back the most persistently. And
yet, so heavily did the world weigh on her in spite
of her independent energy, that with this idea of
Will as in need of such help and at a disad-
vantage with the world, there came always the
vision of that unfittingness of any closer relation
between them which lay in the opinion of every
one connected with her. She felt to the full all
the imperativeness of the motives which urged
Will's conduct. How could he dream of her defy-
ing the barrier that her husband had placed be-
tween them? how could she ever say to herself
that she would defy it ?
Will's certainty, as the carriage grew smaller
in the distance, had much more bitterness in it.
Very slight matters were enough to gall him in
his sensitive mood, and the sight of Dorothea
driving past him while he felt himself plodding
along as a poor devil seeking a position in a
world which in his present temper offered him
little that he coveted, made his conduct seem a
mere matter of necessity, and took away the sus-
tainment of resolve. After all, he had no assur-
ance that she loved him : could any man pretend
that he was simply glad in such a case to have
the suffering all on his own side ?
That evening Will spent with the Lydgates ;
the next evening he was gone.
END OP THE THIRD VOLUME.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH.
Eliot, George (pseud.)
i. e. Marian Evans,
PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY