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

MIDDLEMAECH 



STUDY OF PROVINCIAL LIFE 



BY 



GEORGE ELIOT 






PR: . 



J3ATE 

WILLIAM BLAClTWtl'OTr'^dro 




EDINBURGH AND LONDON 
MDCCCLXXII 



The. TJinJit nf Trn.n aJ.ri t.i.nn. is 



PR 



CONTENTS OF THE THIED VOLUME. 



PAGE 

BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND, . 1 

11 VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE, 193 



MIDDLEMARCH 

BOOK V. 
THE DEAD HAND 



BOOK V. 

THE DEAD HAND. 



CHAPTEE XLIII. 



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 



4 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
patience. 

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 
at home. 

" 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 



6 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



8 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 
you." 

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 



10 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
Casaubon ! 

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- 
table, said 

"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 
bene'?" 

" 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/' 



12 MIDDLEMAECH. 

" Really, I never thought about it," said Will, 
sulkily. 

" 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- 
bon." 

"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 



14 M1DDLEMARCH. 



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 
playful curiosity 

"Why so?" 

" 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, 
Tertius?" 

"No, dear, no. I am too entirely contented." 

" But what did Mrs Casaubon want to say to 
you?" 

"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 
a-year." 



16 



CHAPTEE XLIV. 



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 



18 



M1DDLEMARCH. 



" 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- 
rally serviceable." 

"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 
with him." 

"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 
persecutions. 

"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- 
dignantly. 

" 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 



20 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
now." 

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 
distrust ? 



CHAPTER XLY. 



" 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 



24 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 
Middlemarch ! 

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." 



26 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
way." 

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 



28 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



30 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
this time." 

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, 
humorously 






BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND. 31 

" Well, Lydgate is a good-looking young fellow, 
you know." 

"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- 
paratus "longs/" 

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 



32 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
tone. 

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 
in luck." 



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 



34 MIDDLEMAKCH.' 

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 
sharp. 

"I can't oblige you there, Wrench," said Mr 
Hawley, thrusting his hands into his trouser- 
pockets. 

" 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 
the wine." 

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 



36 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
a blessing. 

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 
those interpretations. 

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 
eating away. 

Meanwhile when Nancy presented herself at 
the Infirmary, it happened to be one of Lydgate's 



38 



M1DDLEMAKCH. 



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 
yield. 

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 



40 



MIDDLEMARCII. 



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 



42 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
sides. 

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 



44 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
Board." 

A useful member was perhaps to be defined 
as one who would originate nothing, and always 
vote with Mr Bulstrode. 



46 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
charlatan. 

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 
her memory. 

Affairs were in this stage when Lydgate opened 



48 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
prudent." 

"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 
foresee." 

"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 
opinion." 

"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 



60 MTDDLEMARCH. 

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 
while. 

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 



52 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
a profession." 

"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 
to you." 

" 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, 



54 



MTDDLEMARCH. 



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- 
edly. 



55 



CHAPTER XLVL 



"Pues no podemos haber aquello que queremos, queramos aquello que 
podremos." 
"Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get." 

Spanish Proverb. 



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 
Eeform. 

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 



66 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

dwelt on to Mr Brooke as a reason for congrat- 
ulation that lie had not yet tried his strength at 
the hustings. 

"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 
support Grey." 

" 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 
thunder." 

" 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 
distress/' 

" 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 



58 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
putting them." 

" 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- 



60 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
earth). 

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- 



62 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



64 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



66 MTDDLEMARCH. 

" 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 
moment." 

" There's no harm in trying. It's good to have 
resident members." 

" 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 



68 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
money/' 

" Then, why don't you extend your liberality 



70 



MIDDLEMAKCH. 



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 
that sort." 

"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 
bias." 

" 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 
her work-table. 

" 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. 



72 



CHAPTEE XLVII. 



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 



74 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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- 



76 



MIDDLEMAECH. 



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 
a fool." 

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- 
thea." 



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 



78 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



80 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
round. 

VOL. nr. F 



82 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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. 



83 



CHAPTEE XLVIII. 



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 
Storm-driven. 



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 



84 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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, 



86 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
purpose." 

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 
ever. 

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 



88 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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- 
diately. 

" 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 
cautions. 



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, 
Dorothea?" 

" 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 



90 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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, 
Dorothea." 

"What is it?" said Dorothea, with dread in 
her mind. 

" 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 
immediately. 

"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- 
seechingly. 

" 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 



92 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



94 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
by hers. 

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 
library." 

" 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, 



96 MIDDLEMAECII. 

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 
her. 

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 



98 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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. 



100 



CHAPTEE XLIX. 



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 
know." 

" 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 
him." 

" Yes, but I can't dismiss him in an instant 
without assigning reasons, my dear Chettam. 



102 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
sister?" 

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 
fellow's." 

"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- 



104 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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- 
ness. 

"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." 



4 

106 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"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 
know." 

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. 



108 



CHAPTEE L. 

" ' 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." 

Canterbury Tales. 

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 
inevitable. 

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." 



110 



MIDDLEMARCIT. 



" 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- 
band's work. 

" 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 
myself." 

"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- 
able staccato. 

" What, Kitty ? " said Dorothea, lifting her eyes 
rather absently. 

"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 
him." 

A large tear which had been for some time 
gathering, rolled down Dorothea's cheek as she 
looked up and tried to smile. 



112 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

" 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 
happy now." 

"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 
me." 

"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 



114 



MIDDLEMARCIf. 



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. 



116 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
into sobs. 

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 
released. 

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 



118 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 



120 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



122 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
own intention. 

" 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 



124 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
him." 

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 



126 MIDDLEMARCII. 

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- 
ance. 




127 



CHAPTER LI. 



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 



128 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



130 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
trouble. 

" 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 



132 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 : 



134 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
check. 

" 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 
innocent. 

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 



136 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



138 



MIDDLEMAKCH. 



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 
schedules." 

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- 
fidence. 

" 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, 
you know." 

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 



140 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



142 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
Baltic. 

"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 
know." 

" 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 
with amenity 

" 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, 
and fourpence." 

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 



146 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 ' 



148 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
Althorpe." 

" 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." 



150 



CHAPTER LII. 

" His heart 
The lowliest duties on itself did lay." 

WORDSWORTH. 

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 
him." 

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, 



152 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
at Lowick." 

" 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 
it well." 

"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 
from. 

"I used often to wish I had been something 



154 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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, 
smiling. 

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 
bachelor's degree. 

" 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 
you again." 

"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 



156 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
simply. 

" 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- 
quence." 

"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 
then." 

"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 
the Church." 

" 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 



158 MIDDLEMARCH. 

to do, will be asking her to tell me whether she 
returns it." 

"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 
their recklessness/' 

"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 
legs." 

" 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 
wish." 

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. 



160 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
gentleman." 

" Not a silly one, I hope," said Mary, beginning 
to pluck the roses again, and feeling her heart 
beat uncomfortably. 

" 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 
do so." 

" 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 



162 MIDDLEMAECH. 

disputed. So, on that score, you may feel your 
mind free." 

" Thank you, Mr Farebrother," said Mary, earn- 
estly. "I am grateful to you for remembering 
my feelings." 

"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 



164 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
Farebrother. 

" 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 
you?" 

" 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 
open." 

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 



166 MIDDLEMARCII. 

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. 



168 




CHAPTEE LIII. 



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- 



170 



MIDDLEMAKCH. 



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 



172 MIDDLEMABCH. 

our egoism is satisfied, the more robust is our 
belief. 

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 



174 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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- 



176 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
a trot.- 

" 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 
here/' 

"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 



178 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
patience. 

" 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 



180 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



182 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

of Mr Raffles, with whom he was condemned to 
breakfast. 

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 
Mr Bulstrode. 

" 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 



184 MIDDLEMAECH. 

engage to keep at a distance," said Mr Bulstrode, 
perhaps with a little too much eagerness in his 
undertone. 

"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. 



186 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
you." 

" 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- 



188 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
you?" 

"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- 
daughter." 

" 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 
laugh. 

"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. 



191) MIDDLEMARCH. 

" 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. 



MIDDLEMARCH 

BOOK VI. 
THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE 



BOOK VI. 
THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. 



CHAPTEB LIT. 

" 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 



196 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
him exhaustible. 

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 
him." 

" 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 



198 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
Middlemarch." 

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 
were rejected. 

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 
lowering medicine." 

" I never called everything by the same name 
that all the people about me did," said Dorothea, 
stoutly. 

" But I suppose you have found out your mis- 
take, my dear," said Mrs Cadwallader, " and that 
is a proof of sanity." 



200 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
Rector. 

" 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 
Mrs Casaubon." 

" 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 
business yet." 

" 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 
mine." 

" 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, 



202 M1DDLEMARCH. 

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 
own desk. 

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 



204 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
my son." 

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 



206 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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- 
room." 

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 
uninhabited. 

"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 



208 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
money." 

" 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 
from Dorothea. 

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 



210 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
liquid flexibility 

" 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 
said 

" 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 ? " 
She smiled. 

" 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 



212 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 
from her 

"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." 

" 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 
memorial." 



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 
head." 

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 
care for." 



214 MIDDLEMARCH. 

The words cut Dorothea to the heart, and made 
her relent. She answered in a tone of sad fellow- 
ship. 

" 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- 
fully. 

" 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 
be intolerable." 

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- 
trance. 

After shaking hands with Dorothea, he bowed 
as slightly as possible to Ladislaw, who repaid 
the slightness exactly, and then going towards 
Dorothea, said 

"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 



216 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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. 



217 



CHAPTEE LV. 



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 



218 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
guttural 

" Dear Dodo, do throw off that cap. I am sure 
your dress must make you feel ill." 



220 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" 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- 
faction. 

" 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 
friends." 

" 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." 



222 MIDDLEMAECH. 

" 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- 
wallader.'" 

" 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 ? " 



224 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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. 



225 



CHAPTER LVL 

" 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 



226 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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- 



228 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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. 



230 



MIDDLEMAECH. 



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 



232 M1DDLEMAKCH. 

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 
and horses. 

"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- 



234 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



236 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 
would." 

" 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 
turn back." 

" 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 
fellow?" 

" Nothing, Mr Garth. I'll help you with plea- 



238 MIDDLEMARCII. 

sure can I?" said Fred, with a sense that he 
should be courting Mary when he was helping her 
father. 

" Well, you mustn't mind stooping and getting 
hot." 

"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 
any better." 

" 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 
them. 

" 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 



240 MTDDLEMARCH. 

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, 
yo are." 

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 



242 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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," 
said Timothy. 

" 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 
the gateway. 

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, 
Mr Garth?" 

" 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. 



244 MIDDLEMARCH. 






" 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 
keeping." 

"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 



246 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
you?" 

" 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 
money." 

" 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 



248 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 
and Mary/' 

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 
fellow." 

"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, 
Susan." 

" 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 




250 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
mark. 

" 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 
quickly, saying 



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 ? " 



252 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 



254 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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, 
simple words. 

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/' 



256 MIDDLEMAECH. 



" 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 
for me." 

" 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 
for 'em." 

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 



258 MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 



nof. 



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 
nicely." 

" 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." 



260 



CHAPTEK LVIL 



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 



262 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
reading. 

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 
Ben. 

" 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 
back to-morrow." 

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 



264 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
vain." 

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 



266 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
for you." 

" 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 
readily." 

" 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 
form themselves. 

" 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. 



268 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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- 
quences 

" 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 
with him. 

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 



270 MIDDLEMAECH. 



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 



the 






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, 



272 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
clergymen?" 

" 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- 
tically. 

" Miss Garth has such severe notions of what 
people should be that it is difficult to satisfy her," 
said Fred. 

" 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 



274 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
or done. 

" 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 



276 MIDDLEMAHCH. 

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- 
liberate thought. 



278 



CHAPTER LVIII. 



' 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" 

SHAKESPEARE: Sonnets. 



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 
liked. 

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 



280 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
before." 

"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 
in it. 

" Ask Ladislaw if he doesn't think your Captain 



282 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



284 



MIDDLEMAECH. 



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, 
Tertius." 



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 



286 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
him. 

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 : 



288 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
of waters. 

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 



290 MIDDLEMAECH. 



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 



ice 



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 
pressing. 

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 



292 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 



294 



MIDDLEMAECH. 



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- 



206 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 



298 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 

go." 

"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 



300 



MIDDLEMAKCII. 



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 
nothing else." 

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- 



302 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 
him. 

" 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 
money." 

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 



304 MIDDLEMARCH. 



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 
task. 

"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 
could speak. 

" No." 

" 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. 



res, 



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 



306 MIDDLEMARCH. 



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- 
mond." 

" 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 
him. 

" 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 



308 MIDDLEMAECH. 

the jewellery we like. He really behaves very 
well." 

"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 
suggestions. 

" 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 
were going. 

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 



310 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
his tone 

' Now we have been united, Rosy, you should 
not leave me to myself in the first trouble that 
has come." 

" 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 
living. 



312 



CHAPTER LIX. 



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 
Lowick Parsonage. 

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 



S14 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
had threatened. 

" 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, 
eagerly. 



316 MIDDLEMARCH. 

"My brother Fred heard it from the Fare- 
brothers." 

Will started up from his chair and reached his 
hat. 

"I daresay she likes you better than the 
property/' said Eosamond, looking at him from 
a distance. 

" 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- 
mond, playfully. 

" 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." 



318 



CHAPTEE LX. 



1 Good phrases are surely, and ever were, very commendable." 

Justice Shallow. 



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 
Gibbons. 

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; 



320 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 



322 



MIDDLEMAECH. 



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 
upon. 

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 



324 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
a knife." 

"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, 
Joseph." 

" 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 



326 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
five shillings." 

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 



328 MIDDLEMARCII. 

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 
impressed. 

" 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 
him. 

"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, 



330 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
Horrock, aside. 

"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. 



332 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 



334 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
before. 

" 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 
source. 

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 
manner. 

" 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. 



336 



MIDDLEMARCH. 



" 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. 



VOL. in. 



338 



CHAPTEE LXL 



" 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 
man?" 

" 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 
of depression. 



340 MIDDLEMARCH. 

" 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 
an illness. 

" 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- 



342 



MIDDLEMAECH. 



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 
possible. 

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 



344 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
shame. 

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 
special instrumentality. 

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- 



346 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
business. 

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 
incompatible. 

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 



348 



MIDDLEMAKCH. 






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 



350 MIDDLEMARCH. 



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- 
terial rescue. 

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 



352 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
unclean offerings. 

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 



354 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
savage. 

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- 



356 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
said 

" 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 
living?" 

" No," said Will, feeling suspicion and repug- 
nance rising so strongly within him, that without 



358 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
inward trial.'* 

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 
found." 

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 



360 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
grateful acceptance. 

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 
said firmly 

" 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 



362 



MIDDLEMAKCH. 



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 
him. 

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. 



864 



CHAPTEE LXII. 



' He was a squyer of low e degre, 
That loved the king's daughter of Hungrie." 

Old Romance. 



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 



366 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
to Dorothea. 

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 



368 MIDDLEMAKCH. 

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 
required. 

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 
heard that? 

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 



370 MIDDLEMARCII. 

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- 



372 MIDDLEMAECH. 

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 
something." 

(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 
behind.) 

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 
Kell 

" 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 



374 MIDDLEMARCII. 

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 
you again." 

" 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 
little. 

" 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 
Dorothea, timidly. 

"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 
was enough." 

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- 



376 MIDDLEMARCH. 

ing, " Do you suppose that I ever disbelieved in 
you?" 

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 
you." 

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. 



378 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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 
of wooing. 

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 
above suspicion. 

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." 



380 MIDDLEMAECH. 

"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 
sob. 

" 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- 



382 



MIDDLEMAKCH. 



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 ? 



384 MIDDLEMARCH. 

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. 



PR 

4662 

Al 

1871 

v.3 



Eliot, George (pseud.) 
i. e. Marian Evans, 
afterwards Cross 
Middlemarch 



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