Part 11 out of 18
was of a marble coldness.
"She wants to go to Lowick, to look over papers," 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 forbidden 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
here idle?" Then, with an effort to recall subjects 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 quitting 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 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 political company,
and you are better out of the way of such doings," said Sir James,
who at that moment 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 mention of it between them would be impossible.
Sir James was shy, even with men, about disagreeable subjects;
and the one thing that Dorothea would have chosen to say, if she
had spoken on the matter at all, was forbidden to her at present
because it seemed to be a further 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 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 admitted, 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 travesty 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 Tabulation,"
which was probably only the beginning of many intended directions
for her guidance. In carrying out this bequest of labor to Dorothea,
as in all else, Mr. Casaubon had been slow and hesitating, oppressed in
the plan of transmitting his work, as he had been in executing it,
by the sense of moving heavily in a dim and clogging medium:
distrust of Dorothea's competence to arrange what he had prepared
was subdued only by distrust of any other redactor. But he had come
at last to create a trust for himself out of Dorothea'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
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 exorbitant claims for himself had even blinded his scrupulous
care for his own character, and made him defeat his own pride by
shocking men of ordinary honor. 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 insisted on rising: had she not been right
in thinking that the half of it ought to go to Will Ladislaw?--
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
Dorothea tried now to turn her thoughts towards immediate duties,
and one of these was of a kind which others were determined to remind
her of. Lydgate's ear had caught eagerly her mention of the living,
and as soon as he could, he reopened the subject, seeing here a
possibility of making amends for the casting-vote he had once given
with an ill-satisfied conscience. "Instead of telling you anything
about Mr. Tyke," he 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: he ought to have done more than he
"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 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
"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. Farebrother
with a strong desire to rescue him from his chance-gotten money.
"I don't pretend to say that Farebrother is apostolic," said Lydgate.
"His position is not quite like that of the Apostles: he is only a
parson among parishioners whose lives he has to try and make better.
Practically I find that what is called being apostolic now,
is an impatience of everything in which the parson doesn't cut
the principal 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 uncomfortably--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 laborers 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 imputed 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--I 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."
"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-forgetful 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 reaching 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
Rosamond's remark that she thought Will adored Mrs. Casaubon.
At that moment he was only caring for what would recommend the
Farebrother family; and he had purposely given emphasis to the worst
that could be said about the Vicar, in order to forestall objections.
In the weeks since Mr. Casaubon's death he had hardly seen
Ladislaw, and he had heard no rumor to warn him that Mr. Brooke's
confidential secretary was a dangerous subject with Mrs. Casaubon.
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 contrary, 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 resistance.
Party is Nature too, and you shall see
By force of Logic how they both agree:
The Many in the One, the One in Many;
All is not Some, nor Some the same as Any:
Genus holds species, both are great or small;
One genus highest, one not high at all;
Each species has its differentia too,
This is not That, and He was never You,
Though this and that are AYES, and you and he
Are like as one to one, or three to three.
No gossip about Mr. Casaubon's will had yet reached Ladislaw:
the air seemed to be filled with the dissolution of Parliament
and the coming election, as the old wakes and fairs were filled
with the rival clatter of itinerant shows; and more private noises
were taken little notice of. The famous "dry election" was at hand,
in which the depths of public feeling might be measured by the low
flood-mark of drink. Will Ladislaw was one of the busiest at this time;
and though Dorothea's widowhood was continually in his thought,
he was so far from wishing to be spoken to on the subject,
that when Lydgate sought him out to tell him what had passed about
the Lowick living, he answered rather waspishly--
"Why should you bring me into the matter? I never see Mrs. Casaubon,
and am not likely to see her, since she is at Freshitt.
I never go there. It is Tory ground, where I and the `Pioneer'
are no more welcome than a poacher and his gun."
The fact was that Will had been made the more susceptible by
observing that Mr. Brooke, instead of wishing him, as before,
to come to the Grange oftener than was quite agreeable to himself,
seemed now to contrive that he should go there as little as possible.
This was a shuffling concession of Mr. Brooke's to Sir James
Chettam's indignant remonstrance; 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 favor 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 other side. He began, not without some inward rage,
to think of going away from the neighborhood: 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 forever divided," said Will. "I might as well be at Rome;
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
Reform Bill, instead of insisting on his independence 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 fulfilled,
neither the Parliamentary Candidate Society nor any other power
on the watch to secure a reforming majority seeing a worthy nodus
for interference while there was a second reforming candidate
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 dangerous 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 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 householders, 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 interval the wisdom of his own methods reasserted itself,
and he was again drawn into using them with much hopefulness.
At this stage of affairs he was in excellent spirits, which even
supported him under large advances of money; for his powers
of convincing and persuading had not yet been, tested by anything
more difficult than a chairman's speech introducing other orators,
or a dialogue with a Middlemarch voter, from which he came away
with a sense that he was a tactician by nature, and that it
was a pity he had not gone earlier into this kind of thing.
He was a little conscious of defeat, however, with Mr. Mawmsey,
a chief representative in Middlemarch of that great social power,
the retail trader, and naturally one of the most doubtful voters
in the borough--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 necessity at last
of disappointing respectable people whose names were on his books.
He was accustomed to receive large orders from Mr. Brooke of Tipton;
but then, there were many of Pinkerton'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 parlor.
"As to Reform, 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 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 color.' Those very words have
been spoken to me, sir, in the very chair where you are now sitting.
I don't mean by your honorable 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 honorable manner."
"Well, you know, Mr. Mawmsey, you would find it the right thing to put
yourself on our side. This Reform will touch everybody by-and-by--
a thoroughly popular measure--a sort of A, B, C, you know,
that must come first before the rest can follow. I quite agree
with you that you've got to look at the thing in a family light:
but public spirit, now. We're all one family, you know--
it's all one cupboard. Such a thing as a vote, now: why, it may
help to make men's fortunes at the Cape--there's no knowing
what may be the effect of a vote," Mr. Brooke ended, with a sense
of being a little out at sea, though finding it still enjoyable.
But Mr. Mawmsey answered in a tone of decisive check.
"I beg your pardon, sir, but I can't afford that. When I give a vote
I must know what I am 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. Few 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 honorable 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 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
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 nomination Mr. Brooke was to explain himself to
the worthy electors of Middlemarch from the balcony of the White Hart,
which looked out advantageously 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 understanding 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 counterbalanced Mr. Hawley
and his associates who sat for Pinkerton at the Green Dragon.
Mr. Brooke, conscious of having weakened the blasts of the "Trumpet"
against him, by his reforms as a landlord 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-colored waistcoat.
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 neighbors, you know."
The weavers and tanners of Middlemarch, unlike Mr. Mawmsey, had never
thought of Mr. Brooke as a neighbor, and were not more attached
to him than if he had been sent in a box from London. But they
listened without much disturbance to the speakers who introduced
the candidate, 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 sensations while he still handled his eye-glass, trifled
with documents before him, and exchanged remarks 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 behind 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 demand 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, 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 confidence.
"Gentlemen--Electors of Middlemarch!"
This was so much the right thing that a little pause after it
"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 be but "fallings from us, vanishings," when fear
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 clews, fell back on himself and his
qualifications--always an appropriate graceful subject for a candidate.
"I am a close neighbor 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-breaking--you're many
of you concerned with machinery, and I've been going into that lately.
It won't do, you know, breaking machines: everything 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 Middlemarch 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-colored waistcoat,
eye-glass, and neutral physiognomy, painted on rag; and there
had arisen, apparently in the air, like the note of the cuckoo,
a parrot-like, Punch-voiced echo of his words. Everybody looked
up at the open windows in the houses at the opposite angles
of the converging streets; but they were either blank, or filled
by laughing listeners. The most innocent echo has an impish mockery
in it when it follows a gravely persistent speaker, and this echo
was not at all innocent; if it did not follow with the precision
of a natural echo, it had a wicked choice of the words it overtook.
By the time it said, "The Baltic, now," the laugh which had been
running through the audience became a general shout, and but for
the sobering effects of party and that great public cause which
the entanglement of things had identified with "Brooke of Tipton,"
the laugh might have caught his committee. Mr. Bulstrode asked,
reprehensively, what the new police was doing; but a voice could not
well be collared, and an attack on the effigy of the candidate 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 disturbance,
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 supported Chatham, or Pitt, the younger Pitt--
he was 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? 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 electioneering 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 confusedly, saw the image of himself,
which had come nearer. The next moment he saw it dolorously
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 hitting 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 gamesome 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, saying, as carelessly
as he could, "This is a little too bad, you know. I should have got
the ear of the 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. "However, things will come all right at
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
"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 ventriloquism, 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 Middlemarch 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
resolve to throw up the "Pioneer" and Mr. Brooke together.
Why should he stay? If the impassable 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 staying
here and slipping into deserved 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 distinction 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
everything 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 ardor.
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 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 withdraw in favor of another candidate,
to whom he left the advantages of his canvassing machinery.
He himself called this a strong measure, but observed that
his health was less capable of sustaining 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? dare say you are tired of it. However, we have dug
a channel with the `Pioneer'--put things in a track, and so on.
A more ordinary man than you might carry it on now--more ordinary,
"Do you wish me to give it up?" said Will, the quick color 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 Ladislaw, proudly. "Since you
are going to part with the `Pioneer,' I need not trouble you about
the steps I shall take. I may choose to continue here for the present."
After Mr. Brooke had left him Will said to himself, "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 movements and not because they are afraid
The lowliest duties on itself did lay."
On that June evening when Mr. Farebrother knew that he was to have
the Lowick living, there was joy in the old fashioned parlor,
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
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 subdued 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 Vicar, 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 Winifred. "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 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
"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 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 propitiating, "but you are the only
friend I can consult. 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 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 farming.
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
Fred's voice had taken a tone of grumbling remonstrance,
and Mr. Farebrother might have been inclined to smile
if his mind had not been too busy in imagining more than Fred told him.
"Have you any difficulties about doctrines--about the Articles?"
he said, trying hard to think of the question simply for Fred's sake.
"No; I suppose the Articles are right. I am not prepared with any
arguments to disprove them, and much better, cleverer fellows than I
am go in for them entirely. I think it would be rather ridiculous
in me to urge scruples of that sort, as if I were a judge,"
said Fred, quite 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 any body ought
to blame me?"
"For going into the Church under the circumstances? 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 consequence."
"But there is another hindrance," said Fred, coloring. "I did
not tell you before, though 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, examining some labels
"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 favor 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 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
"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
"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."
There was a moment's silence before Mr. Farebrother 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. Farebrother's approach along the grass,
and had just stooped down to lecture a small black-and-tan terrier,
which would persist in walking on the sheet and smelling at the
rose-leaves as Mary sprinkled them. She took his fore-paws in one hand,
and lifted up the forefinger of the other, while the dog wrinkled
his brows and looked embarrassed. "Fly, Fly, I am ashamed of you,"
Mary was saying in a grave contralto. "This is not becoming in a
sensible dog; anybody would think you were a silly young gentleman."
"You are unmerciful to young gentlemen, Miss Garth," said the Vicar,
within two yards of her.
Mary started up and blushed. "It always answers to reason with Fly,"
she said, laughingly.
"But not with young gentlemen?"
"Oh, with some, I suppose; since some of them turn into excellent men."
"I am glad of that admission, because I want at this very moment
to interest you in a young 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. However, 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 going 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 unable to look up, "whenever you have
anything to say to me I feel honored."
"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 relieve 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 difference 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 disputed,
and you may be sure it would have been disputed. So, on that score,
you may feel your mind free."
"Thank you, Mr. Farebrother," said Mary, earnestly. "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
Mary looked so much moved, that he said after a moment, "Let us
walk a little;" and when they 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 anything 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 looking at things," said Mary, with a returning
sparkle of playfulness in her answer which only made its modesty
"He wishes me to report exactly what you think," said Mr. Farebrother.
"I could not love a man who is ridiculous," said Mary, not choosing to
go deeper. "Fred has sense and knowledge enough to make him respectable,
if he likes, in some good worldly business, but I can never imagine
him preaching and exhorting, and pronouncing blessings, and praying
by the sick, without feeling as if I were looking at a caricature.
His being a clergyman would be only for gentility's sake, and I think
there is nothing more contemptible than such imbecile gentility.
I used to think that of Mr. Crowse, with his empty face and neat
umbrella, and mincing little speeches. What right have such men
to represent Christianity--as if it were an institution for getting up
idiots genteelly--as if--" Mary checked herself. She had been carried
along as if she had been speaking to Fred instead of Mr. 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 clergyman he could have
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."
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
remaining 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 under 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 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 thoroughly,"
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 something indefinable, something like
the resolute suppression of a pain in Mr. Farebrother's manner,
made her feel suddenly miserable, as she had once felt when she saw
her father's hands trembling in a moment of trouble.
"No, my dear, no. I must get back."
In three minutes the Vicar was on horseback again, having gone
magnanimously through a duty much harder than the renunciation
of whist, or even than the writing of penitential meditations.
It is but a shallow haste which concludeth insincerity from
what outsiders call inconsistency--putting a dead mechanism
of "ifs" and "therefores" for the living myriad of hidden
suckers whereby the belief and the conduct are wrought into
Mr. Bulstrode, 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 proprietor of Stone Court, Mr. Farebrother
"read himself" into the quaint little church and preached his first
sermon to the congregation of farmers, laborers, 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 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 surprising 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 expected; 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 paradise for our neighbors!
We judge from our own desires, and our neighbors 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 estimation, and he had certainly wished to call it his own.
But as Warren Hastings looked at gold and thought of buying Daylesford,
so Joshua Rigg 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 moneychanger.
From his earliest employment as an errand-boy in a seaport,
he had looked through the windows of the moneychangers 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 accidents 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 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
Enough. We are concerned with looking at Joshua Rigg'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 Rigg's destiny, which belonged
to the unmapped regions not taken under the providential government,
except perhaps in an imperfect 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. For the egoism which enters
into our theories does not affect their sincerity; rather, the more
our egoism is satisfied, the more robust is our belief.
However, whether for sanction or for chastisement, 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 conversation 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 odors to mingle with 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 intense satisfaction when the depth of our sinning
is but a measure for the depth of forgiveness, and a clenching
proof that we are peculiar instruments of the divine intention.
The memory has as many moods as the temper, and shifts its scenery
like a diorama. At this moment Mr. Bulstrode 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 Highbury.
And he would willingly have had that service of exhortation
in prospect now. The texts were there still, and so was his own
facility in expounding them. His brief reverie was interrupted
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 horseman 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 mistaken, 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 excited 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. Bulstrode,
but it ended in his putting out his hand coldly to Raffles and saying--
"I did not indeed expect to see you in this remote country place."
"Well, it belongs to a stepson of mine," said Raffles, adjusting himself
in a swaggering attitude. "I came to see him here before. I'm not
so surprised 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!" Raffles 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 tendencies which are commonly
strong were almost absent from his mind; and one of these was
curiosity about personal affairs. Especially if there was anything
discreditable to be found out concerning 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
evening sunshine which shone backward to its remembered 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 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 Raffles, making a grimace. "I don't care now
about seeing my stepson. I'd rather go home with you."
"Your stepson, if Mr. Rigg Featherstone was he, is here no longer.
I am master here now."
Raffles opened wide eyes, and gave a long whistle of surprise,
before he said, "Well then, I've no objection. 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."
Mr. Raffles seemed greatly to enjoy his own wit, and Swung his leg
in a swaggering manner which was rather too much for his companion's
"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. Raffles. 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 feelings 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 Raffles than the desire to torment,
and that a hint of annoyance 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 housekeeper for the
accommodation of the guest, had a resolute air of quietude.
There was the comfort of thinking that this housekeeper had been in
the service of Rigg also, and might accept the idea that Mr. Bulstrode
entertained Raffles merely as a friend of her former master.
When there was food and drink spread before his visitor in the
wainscoted parlor, 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 therefore 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 transact with me. But under the circumstances I
will invite you to remain here for the night, and I will myself
ride over here early to-morrow morning--before breakfast, in fact,
when I can receive any Communication you have to make to me."
"With all my heart," said Raffles; "this is a comfortable place--
a little dull for a continuance; but I can put up with it for
a night, with this good liquor and the prospect of seeing you again
in the morning. You're a much better host than my stepson was;
but Josh owed me a bit of a grudge for marrying his mother;
and between you and me there was never anything but kindness."
Mr. Bulstrode, hoping that the peculiar mixture of joviality
and sneering in Raffles' manner was a good deal the effect
of drink, had determined to wait till he was quite sober before
he spent more words upon him. But he rode home with a terribly
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 chastisement 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 misdeeds 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?
In his 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--
distinct and inmost as the shiver and the ache of oncoming fever
when we are discussing abstract pain, was the forecast of disgrace
in the presence of his neighbors and of his own wife. For the pain,
as well as the public estimate of disgrace, depends 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
delightful home than at that moment; the great white lilies were
in flower, the nasturtiums, their pretty leaves all silvered with dew,
were running away over the low stone wall; the very noises all
around had a heart of peace within them. But everything was spoiled
for the owner as he walked on the gravel in front and awaited
the descent of Mr. Raffles, with whom he was condemned to breakfast.
It was not long before they were seated together in the wainscoted
parlor 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 you at some pretty place. My own
establishment 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. Raffles 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 company. 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 color than you.
I want an independence."
"That could be supplied to you, if you would engage to keep at
a distance," said Mr. Bulstrode, perhaps with a little too much
eagerness in his 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 anybody. I dropped my portmanteau at
the turnpike when I got down--change of linen--genuine--honor bright--
more than fronts and wristbands; and with this suit of mourning,
straps and everything, I should do you credit among the nobs here."
Mr. Raffles 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 appearance 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. Raffles," said Bulstrode,
after a moment's pause, "you will expect to meet my wishes."
"Ah, to be sure," said Raffles, 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 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. Raffles' slow wink and slight protrusion of his
tongue was worse than a nightmare, because it held the certitude
that it was not a nightmare, but a waking misery. Mr. Bulstrode
felt a shuddering nausea, and did not speak, but was considering
diligently whether he should not leave Raffles 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
Raffles at a distance, but Mr. Bulstrode shrank from the direct
falsehood of denying true statements. It was one thing to look back on
forgiven sins, nay, to explain questionable conformity to lax customs,
and another to enter deliberately on the necessity of falsehood.
But since Bulstrode did not speak, Raffles 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 gentlemanly 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 blessing to both
Mr. Raffles ended with a jocose snuffle: no man felt his intellect
more superior to religious cant. And if the cunning which calculates
on the meanest 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 an evident selection of statements,
as if they had been so many moves at chess. Meanwhile Bulstrode
had determined on his move, and he said, with gathered resolution--
"You will do well to reflect, Mr. Raffles, 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 neighborhood.
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 Raffles, with an affected explosion, "that reminds
me of a droll dog of a thief who declined to know the constable."
"Your allusions are lost on me sir," said Bulstrode, 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 payment won't quite suit me. I like my freedom."
Here Raffles rose and stalked once or twice up and down the room,
swinging his leg, and assuming 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--honor 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
"No, I have one hundred," said Bulstrode, feeling the immediate riddance
too great a relief to be rejected on the ground of future uncertainties.
"I will forward you the other if you will mention an address."
"No, I'll wait here till you bring it," said Raffles. "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 Raffles suggested, when the latter said,
lifting up his finger as if with a sudden recollection--
"I did have another look after Sarah again, 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 pocketbook. 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 your step-daughter."
"Doubtless," said Mr. Bulstrode, with the usual steady look of his
light-gray eyes; "though that might reduce my power of assisting you."
As he walked out of the room, Raffles winked slowly at his back,
and then turned towards the window to watch the banker riding away--
virtually 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 presently said, half aloud,
scratching his head, and wrinkling his brows horizontally. He had
not really cared or thought about this point of forgetfulness until
it occurred to him in his invention of annoyances for Bulstrode.
"It began with L; it was almost all l's 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 mental chase;
for few men were more impatient of private occupation or more
in need of making themselves continually heard than Mr. Raffles.
He preferred using his time in pleasant conversation 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 wainscoted parlor, 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 remembered is of no value.
Raffles 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 like that of Mr. Raffles there is always probable good in a secret.
He was satisfied with his present success, and by three o'clock that day
he had taken up his portmanteau at the turnpike and mounted the coach,
relieving Mr. Bulstrode's eyes of an ugly black spot on the landscape
at Stone Court, but not relieving him of the dread that the black spot
might reappear and become inseparable even from the vision of his hearth.
THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE.
"Negli occhi porta la mia donna Amore;
Per che si fa gentil eio ch'ella mira:
Ov'ella passa, ogni uom ver lei si gira,
E cui saluta fa tremar lo core.
Sicche, 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
Nasee nel core a chi parlar la sente;
Ond' e beato chi prima la vide.
Quel ch'ella par quand' un poco sorride,
Non si pub dicer, ne tener a mente,
Si e nuovo miracolo gentile."
--DANTE: la Vita Nuova.
By that delightful morning when the hay-ricks at Stone Court were
scenting the air quite impartially, as if Mr. Raffles had been
a guest worthy of finest incense, Dorothea had again taken up
her abode at Lowick Manor. After three months Freshitt had become
rather oppressive: to sit like a model for Saint Catherine looking
rapturously at Celia's baby would not do for many hours in the day,
and to remain in that momentous babe's presence with persistent
disregard was a course that could not have been tolerated in a
childless sister. Dorothea would have been capable of carrying
baby joyfully for a mile if there had been need, and of loving
it the more tenderly for that labor; but to an aunt who does not
recognize her infant nephew as Bouddha, and has nothing to do for him but
to admire, his behavior 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 anything!" 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! Really it was a mercy," 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, objecting 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 disappointment,
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: everybody 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 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 disapproved. Sir James was
much pained, and offered that they should all migrate to Cheltenham
for a few months with the sacred ark, otherwise called a cradle:
at that period a man could hardly know what to propose if Cheltenham
The Dowager Lady Chettam, just returned from a visit to her daughter
in town, wished, at least, that Mrs. Vigo should be written to,
and invited to accept the office of companion to Mrs. Casaubon:
it was not credible that Dorothea as a young widow would think
of living alone in the house at Lowick. Mrs. Vigo 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 certainly 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 dare say you are a little bored here with our good dowager;
but think what a bore you might become 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 mistake, my dear,"
said Mrs. Cadwallader, "and that is a proof of sanity."
Dorothea was aware of the sting, but it did not hurt her.
"No," she said, "I still think that the greater part of the world
is mistaken about many things. Surely one may be sane and yet
think so, since the greater part of the world has often had to come
round from its opinion."
Mrs. Cadwallader said no more on that point to Dorothea, but to her
husband she remarked, "It will be well for her to marry again as soon
as it is proper, if one could get her among the right people.
Of course the Chettams would not wish it. But I see clearly
a husband is the best thing to keep her in order. If we were not
so poor I would invite Lord Triton. He will be marquis some day,
and there is no denying that she would make a good marchioness:
she looks handsomer than ever in her mourning."
"My dear Elinor, do let the poor woman alone. Such contrivances
are of no use," said the easy 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 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 Cadwallader, 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 neighborhood."
Mrs. Cadwallader said nothing, but gave her husband three
significant nods, with a very sarcastic expression in her dark eyes.
Dorothea quietly persisted in spite of remonstrance and persuasion.
So by the end of June the shutters were all opened at Lowick Manor,
and the morning gazed calmly into the library, shining on the rows
of note-books as it shines on the weary waste planted with huge
stones, the mute memorial of a forgotten faith; and the evening
laden with roses entered silently into the blue-green boudoir
where Dorothea chose oftenest to sit. At first she walked into
every room, questioning 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 remonstrated
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,
"I 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 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 enchantment
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
rubbish 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 especially to talk to the new rector,
but also true that remembering what Lydgate had told her about
Will Ladislaw and little Miss Noble, she counted on Will's coming
to Lowick to see the Farebrother family. The very first Sunday,
_before_ she entered the church, she saw him as she had seen
him the last time she was there, alone in the clergyman's 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 neighborhood and out of it.
"Probably some of Mr. Farebrother's Middlemarch hearers may follow
him to Lowick sometimes. Do you not think so?" said Dorothea,
rather despising herself for having a secret motive in asking
"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 nevertheless, 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 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 herself
of her income and affairs. She had not yet applied herself
to her work, but was seated with her hands folded on her lap,
looking out along the avenue of limes to the distant fields.
Every leaf was at rest in the sunshine, the familiar scene
was changeless, and seemed to represent the prospect of her life,
full of motiveless ease--motiveless, if her own energy could not
seek out reasons for ardent action. The widow's cap of those times
made an oval frame for the face, and had a crown standing up;
the dress was an experiment in the utmost laying on of crape;
but this heavy solemnity of clothing made her face look all the younger,
with its recovered bloom, and the sweet, inquiring candor 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 immediately. "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 another. It was below the boudoir, and had
also a bow-window 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
"I am only come to say good-by, 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 ignorant, 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. Cadwallader'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 suddenness.
Neither of them knew how it was, but neither of them spoke.
She gave her hand for a moment, and then they went to sit down
near the window, she on one settee and he on another opposite.
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
"I hope I have not presumed too much in calling," said Will;
"I could not bear to leave the neighborhood and begin a new life
without seeing you to say good-by."
"Presumed? Surely not. I should have thought it unkind if you
had not wished to see me," said Dorothea, her habit of speaking
with perfect genuineness asserting itself through all her uncertainty
and agitation. "Are you going away immediately?"
"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 honorable position for themselves
without family or money."
"And that will make it all the more honorable," 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