Part 8 out of 18
a profession, went on flourishingly under Mr. Vincy's own eyes.
Young love-making--that gossamer web! Even the points it
clings to--the things whence its subtle interlacings are swung--
are scarcely perceptible: momentary touches of fingertips,
meetings of rays from blue and dark orbs, unfinished phrases,
lightest changes of cheek and lip, faintest tremors. The web itself
is made of spontaneous beliefs and indefinable joys, yearnings of one
life towards another, visions of completeness, indefinite trust.
And Lydgate fell to spinning that web from his inward self with
wonderful rapidity, in spite of experience supposed to be finished
off with the drama of Laure--in spite too of medicine and biology;
for the inspection of macerated muscle or of eyes presented in a dish
(like Santa Lucia's), and other incidents of scientific inquiry,
are observed to be less incompatible with poetic love than a native
dulness or a lively addiction to the lowest prose. As for Rosamond,
she was in the water-lily's expanding wonderment at its own fuller life,
and she too was spinning industriously at the mutual web. All this
went on in the corner of the drawing-room where the piano stood,
and subtle as it was, the light made it a sort of rainbow visible
to many observers besides Mr. Farebrother. The certainty that Miss
Vincy and Mr. Lydgate were engaged became general in Middlemarch
without the aid of formal announcement.
Aunt Bulstrode was again stirred to anxiety; but this time she
addressed herself to her brother, going to the warehouse expressly
to avoid Mrs. Vincy's volatility. His replies were not satisfactory.
"Walter, you never mean to tell me that you have allowed all
this to go on without inquiry into Mr. Lydgate's prospects?"
said Mrs. Bulstrode, opening her eyes with wider gravity at her brother,
who was in his peevish warehouse humor. "Think of this girl
brought up in luxury--in too worldly a way, I am sorry to say--
what will she do on a small income?"
"Oh, confound it, Harriet! What can I do when men come into
the town without any asking of mine? Did you shut your house up
against Lydgate? Bulstrode has pushed him forward more than anybody.
I never made any fuss about the young fellow. You should go
and talk to your husband about it, not me."
"Well, really, Walter, how can Mr. Bulstrode be to blame?
I am sure he did not wish for the engagement."
"Oh, if Bulstrode had not taken him by the hand, I should never
have invited him."
"But you called him in to attend on Fred, and I am sure that was
a mercy," said Mrs. Bulstrode, losing her clew in the intricacies
of the subject.
"I don't know about mercy," said Mr. Vincy, testily. "I know I
am worried more than I like with my family. I was a good brother
to you, Harriet, before you married Bulstrode, and I must say he
doesn't always show that friendly spirit towards your family that might
have been expected of him." Mr. Vincy was very little like a Jesuit,
but no accomplished Jesuit could have turned a question more adroitly.
Harriet had to defend her husband instead of blaming her brother,
and the conversation ended at a point as far from the beginning as
some recent sparring between the brothers-in-law at a vestry meeting.
Mrs. Bulstrode did not repeat her brother's complaints to her husband,
but in the evening she spoke to him of Lydgate and Rosamond.
He did not share her warm interest, however; and only spoke with
resignation of the risks attendant on the beginning of medical
practice and the desirability of prudence.
"I am sure we are bound to pray for that thoughtless girl--
brought up as she has been," said Mrs. Bulstrode, wishing to rouse
her husband's feelings.
"Truly, my dear," said Mr. Bulstrode, assentingly. "Those who are
not of this world can do little else to arrest the errors of the
obstinately worldly. That is what we must accustom ourselves to
recognize with regard to your brother's family. I could have wished
that Mr. Lydgate had not entered into such a union; but my relations
with him are limited to that use of his gifts for God's purposes
which is taught us by the divine government under each dispensation."
Mrs. Bulstrode said no more, attributing some dissatisfaction which she
felt to her own want of spirituality. She believed that her husband
was one of those men whose memoirs should be written when they died.
As to Lydgate himself, having been accepted, he was prepared to
accept all the consequences which he believed himself to foresee
with perfect clearness. Of course he must be married in a year--
perhaps even in half a year. This was not what he had intended;
but other schemes would not be hindered: they would simply
adjust themselves anew. Marriage, of course, must be prepared
for in the usual way. A house must be taken instead of the rooms
he at present occupied; and Lydgate, having heard Rosamond speak
with admiration of old Mrs. Bretton's house (situated in Lowick
Gate), took notice when it fell vacant after the old lady's death,
and immediately entered into treaty for it.
He did this in an episodic way, very much as he gave orders to his
tailor for every requisite of perfect dress, without any notion
of being extravagant. On the contrary, he would have despised any
ostentation of expense; his profession had familiarized him with all
grades of poverty, and he cared much for those who suffered hardships.
He would have behaved perfectly at a table where the sauce was served
in a jug with the handle off, and he would have remembered nothing
about a grand dinner except that a man was there who talked well.
But it had never occurred to him that he should live in any other
than what he would have called an ordinary way, with green glasses
for hock, and excellent waiting at table. In warming himself at
French social theories he had brought away no smell of scorching.
We may handle even extreme opinions with impunity while our furniture,
our dinner-giving, and preference for armorial bearings in our
own case, link us indissolubly with the established order.
And Lydgate's tendency was not towards extreme opinions: he would
have liked no barefooted doctrines, being particular about his boots:
he was no radical in relation to anything but medical reform
and the prosecution of discovery. In the rest of practical life
he walked by hereditary habit; half from that personal pride
and unreflecting egoism which I have already called commonness,
and half from that naivete which belonged to preoccupation
with favorite ideas.
Any inward debate Lydgate had as to the consequences of this
engagement which had stolen upon him, turned on the paucity of time
rather than of money. Certainly, being in love and being expected
continually by some one who always turned out to be prettier
than memory could represent her to be, did interfere with the
diligent use of spare hours which might serve some "plodding
fellow of a German" to make the great, imminent discovery.
This was really an argument for not deferring the marriage too long,
as he implied to Mr. Farebrother, one day that the Vicar came
to his room with some pond-products which he wanted to examine
under a better microscope than his own, and, finding Lydgate's
tableful of apparatus and specimens in confusion, said sarcastically--
"Eros has degenerated; he began by introducing order and harmony,
and now he brings back chaos."
"Yes, at some stages," said Lydgate, lifting his brows and smiling,
while he began to arrange his microscope. "But a better order will
"Soon?" said the Vicar.
"I hope so, really. This unsettled state of affairs uses up the time,
and when one has notions in science, every moment is an opportunity.
I feel sure that marriage must be the best thing for a man who wants
to work steadily. He has everything at home then--no teasing with
personal speculations--he can get calmness and freedom."
"You are an enviable dog," said the Vicar, "to have such a prospect--
Rosamond, calmness and freedom, all to your share. Here am
I with nothing but my pipe and pond-animalcules. Now, are you ready?"
Lydgate did not mention to the Vicar another reason he had
for wishing to shorten the period of courtship. It was rather
irritating to him, even with the wine of love in his veins, to be
obliged to mingle so often with the family party at the Vincys',
and to enter so much into Middlemarch gossip, protracted good cheer,
whist-playing, and general futility. He had to be deferential
when Mr. Vincy decided questions with trenchant ignorance,
especially as to those liquors which were the best inward pickle,
preserving you from the effects of bad air. Mrs. Vincy's openness
and simplicity were quite unstreaked with suspicion as to the subtle
offence she might give to the taste of her intended son-in-law;
and altogether Lydgate had to confess to himself that he was
descending a little in relation to Rosamond's family. But that
exquisite creature herself suffered in the same sort of way:--
it was at least one delightful thought that in marrying her,
he could give her a much-needed transplantation.
"Dear!" he said to her one evening, in his gentlest tone, as he
sat down by her and looked closely at her face--
But I must first say that he had found her alone in the drawing-room,
where the great old-fashioned window, almost as large as the side
of the room, was opened to the summer scents of the garden at the
back of the house. Her father and mother were gone to a party,
and the rest were all out with the butterflies.
"Dear! your eyelids are red."
"Are they?" said Rosamond. "I wonder why." It was not in her
nature to pour forth wishes or grievances. They only came forth
gracefully on solicitation.
"As if you could hide it from me!"? said Lydgate, laying his hand tenderly
on both of hers. "Don't I see a tiny drop on one of the lashes?
Things trouble you, and you don't tell me. That is unloving."
"Why should I tell you what you cannot alter? They are
every-day things:--perhaps they have been a little worse lately."
"Family annoyances. Don't fear speaking. I guess them."
"Papa has been more irritable lately. Fred makes him angry, and this
morning there was a fresh quarrel because Fred threatens to throw
his whole education away, and do something quite beneath him.
Rosamond hesitated, and her cheeks were gathering a slight flush.
Lydgate had never seen her in trouble since the morning of
their engagement, and he had never felt so passionately towards
her as at this moment. He kissed the hesitating lips gently,
as if to encourage them.
"I feel that papa is not quite pleased about our engagement,"
Rosamond continued, almost in a whisper; "and he said last night
that he should certainly speak to you and say it must be given up."
"Will you give it up?" said Lydgate, with quick energy--almost angrily.
"I never give up anything that I choose to do," said Rosamond,
recovering her calmness at the touching of this chord.
"God bless you!" said Lydgate, kissing her again. This constancy
of purpose in the right place was adorable. He went on:--
"It is too late now for your father to say that our engagement
must be given up. You are of age, and I claim you as mine.
If anything is done to make you unhappy,--that is a reason for
hastening our marriage."
An unmistakable delight shone forth from the blue eyes that met his,
and the radiance seemed to light up all his future with mild sunshine.
Ideal happiness (of the kind known in the Arabian Nights, in which you
are invited to step from the labor and discord of the street into
a paradise where everything is given to you and nothing claimed)
seemed to be an affair of a few weeks' waiting, more or less.
"Why should we defer it?" he said, with ardent insistence.
"I have taken the house now: everything else can soon be got ready--
can it not? You will not mind about new clothes. Those can be
"What original notions you clever men have!" said Rosamond, dimpling with
more thorough laughter than usual at this humorous incongruity.
"This is the first time I ever heard of wedding-clothes being
bought after marriage."
"But you don't mean to say you would insist on my waiting months
for the sake of clothes?" said Lydgate, half thinking that Rosamond
was tormenting him prettily, and half fearing that she really shrank
from speedy marriage. "Remember, we are looking forward to a better
sort of happiness even than this--being continually together,
independent of others, and ordering our lives as we will.
Come, dear, tell me how soon you can be altogether mine."
There was a serious pleading in Lydgate's tone, as if he felt that
she would be injuring him by any fantastic delays. Rosamond became
serious too, and slightly meditative; in fact, she was going through
many intricacies of lace-edging and hosiery and petticoat-tucking,
in order to give an answer that would at least be approximative.
"Six weeks would be ample--say so, Rosamond," insisted Lydgate,
releasing her hands to put his arm gently round her.
One little hand immediately went to pat her hair, while she gave
her neck a meditative turn, and then said seriously--
"There would be the house-linen and the furniture to be prepared.
Still, mamma could see to those while we were away."
"Yes, to be sure. We must be away a week or so."
"Oh, more than that!" said Rosamond, earnestly. She was thinking
of her evening dresses for the visit to Sir Godwin Lydgate's, which
she had long been secretly hoping for as a delightful employment
of at least one quarter of the honeymoon, even if she deferred
her introduction to the uncle who was a doctor of divinity (also
a pleasing though sober kind of rank, when sustained by blood). She
looked at her lover with some wondering remonstrance as she spoke,
and he readily understood that she might wish to lengthen the sweet
time of double solitude.
"Whatever you wish, my darling, when the day is fixed. But let
us take a decided course, and put an end to any discomfort you
may be suffering. Six weeks!--I am sure they would be ample."
"I could certainly hasten the work," said Rosamond. "Will you, then,
mention it to papa?--I think it would be better to write to him."
She blushed and looked at him as the garden flowers look at us when we
walk forth happily among them in the transcendent evening light:
is there not a soul beyond utterance, half nymph, half child,
in those delicate petals which glow and breathe about the centres
of deep color?
He touched her ear and a little bit of neck under it with his lips,
and they sat quite still for many minutes which flowed by them
like a small gurgling brook with the kisses of the sun upon it.
Rosamond thought that no one could be more in love than she was;
and Lydgate thought that after all his wild mistakes and absurd credulity,
he had found perfect womanhood--felt as if already breathed upon
by exquisite wedded affection such as would be bestowed by an
accomplished creature who venerated his high musings and momentous
labors and would never interfere with them; who would create order
in the home and accounts with still magic, yet keep her fingers ready
to touch the lute and transform life into romance at any moment;
who was instructed to the true womanly limit and not a hair's-
breadth beyond--docile, therefore, and ready to carry out behests
which came from that limit. It was plainer now than ever that his
notion of remaining much longer a bachelor had been a mistake:
marriage would not be an obstruction but a furtherance.
And happening the next day to accompany a patient to Brassing,
he saw a dinner-service there which struck him as so exactly the right
thing that he bought it at once. It saved time to do these things
just when you thought of them, and Lydgate hated ugly crockery.
The dinner-service in question was expensive, but that might be in
the nature of dinner-services. Furnishing was necessarily expensive;
but then it had to be done only once.
"It must be lovely," said Mrs. Vincy, when Lydgate mentioned his
purchase with some descriptive touches. "Just what Rosy ought
to have. I trust in heaven it won't be broken!"
"One must hire servants who will not break things," said Lydgate.
(Certainly, this was reasoning with an imperfect vision of sequences.
But at that period there was no sort of reasoning which was not more
or less sanctioned by men of science.)
Of course it was unnecessary to defer the mention of anything
to mamma, who did not readily take views that were not cheerful,
and being a happy wife herself, had hardly any feeling but pride
in her daughter's marriage. But Rosamond had good reasons for
suggesting to Lydgate that papa should be appealed to in writing.
She prepared for the arrival of the letter by walking with her papa
to the warehouse the next morning, and telling him on the way that
Mr. Lydgate wished to be married soon.
"Nonsense, my dear!" said Mr. Vincy. "What has he got to marry on?
You'd much better give up the engagement. I've told you so pretty
plainly before this. What have you had such an education for,
if you are to go and marry a poor man? It's a cruel thing for a father
"Mr. Lydgate is not poor, papa. He bought Mr. Peacock's practice,
which, they say, is worth eight or nine hundred a-year."
"Stuff and nonsense! What's buying a practice? He might as well
buy next year's swallows. It'll all slip through his fingers."
"On the contrary, papa, he will increase the practice. See how he
has been called in by the Chettams and Casaubons."
"I hope he knows I shan't give anything--with this disappointment
about Fred, and Parliament going to be dissolved, and machine-breaking
everywhere, and an election coming on--"
"Dear papa! what can that have to do with my marriage?"
"A pretty deal to do with it! We may all be ruined for what I know--
the country's in that state! Some say it's the end of the world,
and be hanged if I don't think it looks like it! Anyhow, it's not
a time for me to be drawing money out of my business, and I should
wish Lydgate to know that."
"I am sure he expects nothing, papa. And he has such very
high connections: he is sure to rise in one way or another.
He is engaged in making scientific discoveries."
Mr. Vincy was silent.
"I cannot give up my only prospect of happiness, papa Mr. Lydgate
is a gentleman. I could never love any one who was not a
perfect gentleman. You would not like me to go into a consumption,
as Arabella Hawley did. And you know that I never change my mind."
Again papa was silent.
"Promise me, papa, that you will consent to what we wish.
We shall never give each other up; and you know that you have always
objected to long courtships and late marriages."
There was a little more urgency of this kind, till Mr. Vincy said,
"Well, well, child, he must write to me first before I can answer him,"--
and Rosamond was certain that she had gained her point.
Mr. Vincy's answer consisted chiefly in a demand that Lydgate
should insure his life--a demand immediately conceded. This was
a delightfully reassuring idea supposing that Lydgate died,
but in the mean time not a self-supporting idea. However, it
seemed to make everything comfortable about Rosamond's marriage;
and the necessary purchases went on with much spirit. Not without
prudential considerations, however. A bride (who is going to visit
at a baronet's) must have a few first-rate pocket-handkerchiefs;
but beyond the absolutely necessary half-dozen, Rosamond contented
herself without the very highest style of embroidery and Valenciennes.
Lydgate also, finding that his sum of eight hundred pounds had been
considerably reduced since he had come to Middlemarch, restrained his
inclination for some plate of an old pattern which was shown to him
when he went into Kibble's establishment at Brassing to buy forks
and spoons. He was too proud to act as if he presupposed that
Mr. Vincy would advance money to provide furniture-; and though,
since it would not be necessary to pay for everything at once,
some bills would be left standing over, he did not waste time in
conjecturing how much his father-in-law would give in the form of dowry,
to make payment easy. He was not going to do anything extravagant,
but the requisite things must be bought, and it would be bad economy
to buy them of a poor quality. All these matters were by the bye.
Lydgate foresaw that science and his profession were the objects
he should alone pursue enthusiastically; but he could not imagine
himself pursuing them in such a home as Wrench had--the doors
all open, the oil-cloth worn, the children in soiled pinafores,
and lunch lingering in the form of bones, black-handled knives,
and willow-pattern. But Wrench had a wretched lymphatic wife
who made a mummy of herself indoors in a large shawl; and he must
have altogether begun with an ill-chosen domestic apparatus.
Rosamond, however, was on her side much occupied with conjectures,
though her quick imitative perception warned her against betraying
them too crudely.
"I shall like so much to know your family," she said one day,
when the wedding journey was being discussed. "We might perhaps
take a direction that would allow us to see them as we returned.
Which of your uncles do you like best?"
"Oh,--my uncle Godwin, I think. He is a good-natured old fellow."
"You were constantly at his house at Quallingham, when you were a boy,
were you not? I should so like to see the old spot and everything
you were used to. Does he know you are going to be married?"
"No," said Lydgate, carelessly, turning in his chair and rubbing
his hair up.
"Do send him word of it, you naughty undutiful nephew. He will
perhaps ask you to take me to Quallingham; and then you could show
me about the grounds, and I could imagine you there when you were
a boy. Remember, you see me in my home, just as it has been since I
was a child. It is not fair that I should be so ignorant of yours.
But perhaps you would be a little ashamed of me. I forgot that."
Lydgate smiled at her tenderly, and really accepted the suggestion
that the proud pleasure of showing so charming a bride was worth
some trouble. And now he came to think of it, he would like to see
the old spots with Rosamond.
"I will write to him, then. But my cousins are bores."
It seemed magnificent to Rosamond to be able to speak so slightingly
of a baronet's family, and she felt much contentment in the prospect
of being able to estimate them contemptuously on her own account.
But mamma was near spoiling all, a day or two later, by saying--
"I hope your uncle Sir Godwin will not look down on Rosy, Mr. Lydgate.
I should think he would do something handsome. A thousand or two
can be nothing to a baronet."
"Mamma!" said Rosamond, blushing deeply; and Lydgate pitied her so
much that he remained silent and went to the other end of the room
to examine a print curiously, as if he had been absent-minded. Mamma
had a little filial lecture afterwards, and was docile as usual.
But Rosamond reflected that if any of those high-bred cousins
who were bores, should be induced to visit Middlemarch, they would
see many things in her own family which might shock them. Hence it
seemed desirable that Lydgate should by-and-by get some first-rate
position elsewhere than in Middlemarch; and this could hardly be
difficult in the case of a man who had a titled uncle and could
make discoveries. Lydgate, you perceive, had talked fervidly to Rosamond
of his hopes as to the highest uses of his life, and had found it
delightful to be listened to by a creature who would bring him the
sweet furtherance of satisfying affection--beauty--repose--such help
as our thoughts get from the summer sky and the flower-fringed meadows.
Lydgate relied much on the psychological difference between
what for the sake of variety I will call goose and gander:
especially on the innate submissiveness of the goose as beautifully
corresponding to the strength of the gander.
"Thrice happy she that is so well assured
Unto herself and settled so in heart
That neither will for better be allured
Ne fears to worse with any chance to start,
But like a steddy ship doth strongly part
The raging waves and keeps her course aright;
Ne aught for tempest doth from it depart,
Ne aught for fairer weather's false delight.
Such self-assurance need not fear the spight
Of grudging foes; ne favour seek of friends;
But in the stay of her own stedfast might
Neither to one herself nor other bends.
Most happy she that most assured doth rest,
But he most happy who such one loves best."
The doubt hinted by Mr. Vincy whether it were only the general
election or the end of the world that was coming on, now that George
the Fourth was dead, Parliament dissolved, Wellington and Peel
generally depreciated and the new King apologetic, was a feeble
type of the uncertainties in provincial opinion at that time.
With the glow-worm lights of country places, how could men see
which were their own thoughts in the confusion of a Tory Ministry
passing Liberal measures, of Tory nobles and electors being anxious
to return Liberals rather than friends of the recreant Ministers,
and of outcries for remedies which seemed to have a mysteriously remote
bearing on private interest, and were made suspicious by the advocacy
of disagreeable neighbors? Buyers of the Middlemarch newspapers
found themselves in an anomalous position: during the agitation
on the Catholic Question many had given up the "Pioneer"--which had
a motto from Charles James Fox and was in the van of progress--
because it had taken Peel's side about the Papists, and had thus
blotted its Liberalism with a toleration of Jesuitry and Baal;
but they were ill-satisfied with the "Trumpet," which--since its
blasts against Rome, and in the general flaccidity of the public
mind (nobody knowing who would support whom)--had become feeble
in its blowing.
It was a time, according to a noticeable article in the "Pioneer,"
when the crying needs of the country might well counteract a reluctance
to public action on the part of men whose minds had from long
experience acquired breadth as well as concentration, decision of
judgment as well as tolerance, dispassionateness as well as energy--
in fact, all those qualities which in the melancholy experience
of mankind have been the least disposed to share lodgings.
Mr. Hackbutt, whose fluent speech was at that time floating more widely
than usual, and leaving much uncertainty as to its ultimate channel,
was heard to say in Mr. Hawley's office that the article in question
"emanated" from Brooke of Tipton, and that Brooke had secretly
bought the "Pioneer" some months ago.
"That means mischief, eh?" said Mr. Hawley. "He's got the freak of
being a popular man now, after dangling about like a stray tortoise.
So much the worse for him. I've had my eye on him for some time.
He shall be prettily pumped upon. He's a damned bad landlord.
What business has an old county man to come currying favor with a low
set of dark-blue freemen? As to his paper, I only hope he may do the
writing himself. It would be worth our paying for."
"I understand he has got a very brilliant young fellow to edit it,
who can write the highest style of leading article, quite equal
to anything in the London papers. And he means to take very high
ground on Reform."
"Let Brooke reform his rent-roll. He's a cursed old screw,
and the buildings all over his estate are going to rack.
I suppose this young fellow is some loose fish from London."
"His name is Ladislaw. He is said to be of foreign extraction."
"I know the sort," said Mr. Hawley; "some emissary. He'll begin with
flourishing about the Rights of Man and end with murdering a wench.
That's the style."
"You must concede that there are abuses, Hawley," said Mr. Hackbutt,
foreseeing some political disagreement with his family lawyer.
"I myself should never favor immoderate views--in fact I take my
stand with Huskisson--but I cannot blind myself to the consideration
that the non-representation of large towns--"
"Large towns be damned!" said Mr. Hawley, impatient of exposition.
"I know a little too much about Middlemarch elections. Let 'em
quash every pocket borough to-morrow, and bring in every mushroom
town in the kingdom--they'll only increase the expense of getting
into Parliament. I go upon facts."
Mr. Hawley's disgust at the notion of the "Pioneer" being edited
by an emissary, and of Brooke becoming actively political--
as if a tortoise of desultory pursuits should protrude its small
head ambitiously and become rampant--was hardly equal to the
annoyance felt by some members of Mr. Brooke's own family.
The result had oozed forth gradually, like the discovery that your
neighbor has set up an unpleasant kind of manufacture which will be
permanently under your nostrils without legal remedy. The "Pioneer"
had been secretly bought even before Will Ladislaw's arrival,
the expected opportunity having offered itself in the readiness
of the proprietor to part with a valuable property which did not pay;
and in the interval since Mr. Brooke had written his invitation,
those germinal ideas of making his mind tell upon the world at
large which had been present in him from his younger years, but had
hitherto lain in some obstruction, had been sprouting under cover.
The development was much furthered by a delight in his guest which
proved greater even than he had anticipated. For it seemed that Will
was not only at home in all those artistic and literary subjects
which Mr. Brooke had gone into at one time, but that he was strikingly
ready at seizing the points of the political situation, and dealing
with them in that large spirit which, aided by adequate memory,
lends itself to quotation and general effectiveness of treatment.
"He seems to me a kind of Shelley, you know," Mr. Brooke took
an opportunity of saying, for the gratification of Mr. Casaubon.
"I don't mean as to anything objectionable--laxities or atheism,
or anything of that kind, you know--Ladislaw's sentiments in every
way I am sure are good--indeed, we were talking a great deal
together last night. But he has the same sort of enthusiasm
for liberty, freedom, emancipation--a fine thing under guidance--
under guidance, you know. I think I shall be able to put him on
the right tack; and I am the more pleased because he is a relation
of yours, Casaubon."
If the right tack implied anything more precise than the rest
of Mr. Brooke's speech, Mr. Casaubon silently hoped that it
referred to some occupation at a great distance from Lowick.
He had disliked Will while he helped him, but he had begun to dislike
him still more now that Will had declined his help. That is the
way with us when we have any uneasy jealousy in our disposition:
if our talents are chiefly of the burrowing kind, our honey-sipping
cousin (whom we have grave reasons for objecting to) is likely
to have a secret contempt for us, and any one who admires him
passes an oblique criticism on ourselves. Having the scruples of
rectitude in our souls, we are above the meanness of injuring him--
rather we meet all his claims on us by active benefits; and the drawing
of cheques for him, being a superiority which he must recognize,
gives our bitterness a milder infusion. Now Mr. Casaubon had been
deprived of that superiority (as anything more than a remembrance)
in a sudden, capricious manner. His antipathy to Will did
not spring from the common jealousy of a winter-worn husband:
it was something deeper, bred by his lifelong claims and discontents;
but Dorothea, now that she was present--Dorothea, as a young
wife who herself had shown an offensive capability of criticism,
necessarily gave concentration to the uneasiness which had before
Will Ladislaw on his side felt that his dislike was flourishing
at the expense of his gratitude, and spent much inward discourse in
justifying the dislike. Casaubon hated him--he knew that very well;
on his first entrance he could discern a bitterness in the mouth
and a venom in the glance which would almost justify declaring war
in spite of past benefits. He was much obliged to Casaubon in the past,
but really the act of marrying this wife was a set-off against
the obligation. It was a question whether gratitude which refers
to what is done for one's self ought not to give way to indignation
at what is done against another. And Casaubon had done a wrong
to Dorothea in marrying her. A man was bound to know himself better
than that, and if he chose to grow gray crunching bones in a cavern,
he had no business to be luring a girl into his companionship.
"It is the most horrible of virgin-sacrifices," said Will; and he
painted to himself what were Dorothea's inward sorrows as if he had
been writing a choric wail. But he would never lose sight of her:
he would watch over her--if he gave up everything else in life
he would watch over her, and she should know that she had one
slave in the world, Will had--to use Sir Thomas Browne's phrase--
a "passionate prodigality" of statement both to himself and others.
The simple truth was that nothing then invited him so strongly as the
presence of Dorothea.
Invitations of the formal kind had been wanting, however, for Will
had never been asked to go to Lowick. Mr. Brooke, indeed, confident of
doing everything agreeable which Casaubon, poor fellow, was too much
absorbed to think of, had arranged to bring Ladislaw to Lowick
several times (not neglecting meanwhile to introduce him elsewhere
on every opportunity as "a young relative of Casaubon's"). And
though Will had not seen Dorothea alone, their interviews had been
enough to restore her former sense of young companionship with one
who was cleverer than herself, yet seemed ready to be swayed by her.
Poor Dorothea before her marriage had never found much room
in other minds for what she cared most to say; and she had not,
as we know, enjoyed her husband's superior instruction so much
as she had expected. If she spoke with any keenness of interest
to Mr. Casaubon, he heard her with an air of patience as if she
had given a quotation from the Delectus familiar to him from his
tender years, and sometimes mentioned curtly what ancient sects
or personages had held similar ideas, as if there were too much
of that sort in stock already; at other times he would inform
her that she was mistaken, and reassert what her remark had questioned.
But Will Ladislaw always seemed to see more in what she said than she
herself saw. Dorothea had little vanity, but she had the ardent
woman's need to rule beneficently by making the joy of another soul.
Hence the mere chance of seeing Will occasionally was like a lunette
opened in the wall of her prison, giving her a glimpse of the sunny air;
and this pleasure began to nullify her original alarm at what her husband
might think about the introduction of Will as her uncle's guest.
On this subject Mr. Casaubon had remained dumb.
But Will wanted to talk with Dorothea alone, and was impatient
of slow circumstance. However slight the terrestrial intercourse
between Dante and Beatrice or Petrarch and Laura, time changes
the proportion of things, and in later days it is preferable to have
fewer sonnets and more conversation. Necessity excused stratagem,
but stratagem was limited by the dread of offending Dorothea.
He found out at last that he wanted to take a particular sketch
at Lowick; and one morning when Mr. Brooke had to drive along
the Lowick road on his way to the county town, Will asked to be set
down with his sketch-book and camp-stool at Lowick, and without
announcing himself at the Manor settled himself to sketch in a
position where he must see Dorothea if she came out to walk--
and he knew that she usually walked an hour in the morning.
But the stratagem was defeated by the weather. Clouds gathered with
treacherous quickness, the rain came down, and Will was obliged to take
shelter in the house. He intended, on the strength of relationship,
to go into the drawing-room and wait there without being announced;
and seeing his old acquaintance the butler in the hall, he said,
"Don't mention that I am here, Pratt; I will wait till luncheon;
I know Mr. Casaubon does not like to be disturbed when he is in
"Master is out, sir; there's only Mrs. Casaubon in the library.
I'd better tell her you're here, sir," said Pratt, a red-cheeked
man given to lively converse with Tantripp, and often agreeing with
her that it must be dull for Madam.
"Oh, very well; this confounded rain has hindered me from sketching,"
said Will, feeling so happy that he affected indifference with
In another minute he was in the library, and Dorothea was meeting
him with her sweet unconstrained smile.
"Mr. Casaubon has gone to the Archdeacon's," she said, at once.
"I don't know whether he will be at home again long before dinner.
He was uncertain how long he should be. Did you want to say anything
particular to him?"
"No; I came to sketch, but the rain drove me in. Else I would
not have disturbed you yet. I supposed that Mr. Casaubon was here,
and I know he dislikes interruption at this hour."
"I am indebted to the rain, then. I am so glad to see you."
Dorothea uttered these common words with the simple sincerity of an
unhappy child, visited at school.
"I really came for the chance of seeing you alone," said Will,
mysteriously forced to be just as simple as she was. He could
not stay to ask himself, why not? "I wanted to talk about things,
as we did in Rome. It always makes a difference when other people
"Yes," said Dorothea, in her clear full tone of assent. "Sit down."
She seated herself on a dark ottoman with the brown books behind her,
looking in her plain dress of some thin woollen-white material,
without a single ornament on her besides her wedding-ring,
as if she were under a vow to be different from all other women;
and Will sat down opposite her at two yards' distance, the light
falling on his bright curls and delicate but rather petulant profile,
with its defiant curves of lip and chin. Each looked at the other
as if they had been two flowers which had opened then and there.
Dorothea for the moment forgot her husband's mysterious irritation
against Will: it seemed fresh water at her thirsty lips to speak
without fear to the one person whom she had found receptive; for in
looking backward through sadness she exaggerated a past solace.
"I have often thought that I should like to talk to you again,"
she said, immediately. "It seems strange to me how many things I
said to you."
"I remember them all," said Will, with the unspeakable content
in his soul of feeling that he was in the presence of a creature
worthy to be perfectly loved. I think his own feelings at that
moment were perfect, for we mortals have our divine moments,
when love is satisfied in the completeness of the beloved object.
"I have tried to learn a great deal since we were in Rome,"
said Dorothea. "I can read Latin a little, and I am beginning to
understand just a little Greek. I can help Mr. Casaubon better now.
I can find out references for him and save his eyes in many ways.
But it is very difficult to be learned; it seems as if people were
worn out on the way to great thoughts, and can never enjoy them
because they are too tired."
"If a man has a capacity for great thoughts, he is likely to overtake
them before he is decrepit," said Will, with irrepressible quickness.
But through certain sensibilities Dorothea was as quick as he,
and seeing her face change, he added, immediately, "But it is quite
true that the best minds have been sometimes overstrained in working
out their ideas."
"You correct me," said Dorothea. "I expressed myself ill.
I should have said that those who have great thoughts get too much
worn in working them out. I used to feel about that, even when I
was a little girl; and it always seemed to me that the use I should
like to make of my life would be to help some one who did great works,
so that his burthen might be lighter."
Dorothea was led on to this bit of autobiography without any
sense of making a revelation. But she had never before said
anything to Will which threw so strong a light on her marriage.
He did not shrug his shoulders; and for want of that muscular
outlet he thought the more irritably of beautiful lips kissing
holy skulls and other emptinesses ecclesiastically enshrined.
Also he had to take care that his speech should not betray that thought.
"But you may easily carry the help too far," he said, "and get
over-wrought yourself. Are you not too much shut up? You already
look paler. It would be better for Mr. Casaubon to have a secretary;
he could easily get a man who would do half his work for him.
It would save him more effectually, and you need only help him in
"How can you think of that?" said Dorothea, in a tone of
earnest remonstrance. "I should have no happiness if I did not
help him in his work. What could I do? There is no good to be
done in Lowick. The only thing I desire is to help him more.
And he objects to a secretary: please not to mention that again."
"Certainly not, now I know your feeling. But I have heard both
Mr. Brooke and Sir James Chettam express the same wish."
"Yes?" said Dorothea, "but they don't understand--they want me
to be a great deal on horseback, and have the garden altered and
new conservatories, to fill up my days. I thought you could understand
that one's mind has other wants," she added, rather impatiently--
"besides, Mr. Casaubon cannot bear to hear of a secretary."
"My mistake is excusable," said Will. "In old days I used to hear
Mr. Casaubon speak as if he looked forward to having a secretary.
Indeed he held out the prospect of that office to me. But I turned
out to be--not good enough for it."
Dorothea was trying to extract out of this an excuse for her
husband's evident repulsion, as she said, with a playful smile,
"You were not a steady worker enough."
"No," said Will, shaking his head backward somewhat after the manner
of a spirited horse. And then, the old irritable demon prompting him
to give another good pinch at the moth-wings of poor Mr. Casaubon's
glory, he went on, "And I have seen since that Mr. Casaubon does
not like any one to overlook his work and know thoroughly what he
is doing. He is too doubtful--too uncertain of himself. I may
not be good for much, but he dislikes me because I disagree with him."
Will was not without his intentions to be always generous,
but our tongues are little triggers which have usually been pulled
before general intentions can be brought to bear. And it was too
intolerable that Casaubon's dislike of him should not be fairly
accounted for to Dorothea. Yet when he had spoken he was rather
uneasy as to the effect on her.
But Dorothea was strangely quiet--not immediately indignant,
as she had been on a like occasion in Rome. And the cause lay deep.
She was no longer struggling against the perception of facts,
but adjusting herself to their clearest perception; and now when she
looked steadily at her husband's failure, still more at his possible
consciousness of failure, she seemed to be looking along the one
track where duty became tenderness. Will's want of reticence
might have been met with more severity, if he had not already been
recommended to her mercy by her husband's dislike, which must seem
hard to her till she saw better reason for it.
She did not answer at once, but after looking down ruminatingly
she said, with some earnestness, "Mr. Casaubon must have overcome
his dislike of you so far as his actions were concerned:
and that is admirable."
"Yes; he has shown a sense of justice in family matters.
It was an abominable thing that my grandmother should have been
disinherited because she made what they called a mesalliance,
though there was nothing to be said against her husband except
that he was a Polish refugee who gave lessons for his bread."
"I wish I knew all about her!" said Dorothea. "I wonder how she
bore the change from wealth to poverty: I wonder whether she
was happy with her husband! Do you know much about them?"
"No; only that my grandfather was a patriot--a bright fellow--
could speak many languages--musical--got his bread by teaching
all sorts of things. They both died rather early. And I never
knew much of my father, beyond what my mother told me; but he
inherited the musical talents. I remember his slow walk and his
long thin hands; and one day remains with me when he was lying ill,
and I was very hungry, and had only a little bit of bread."
"Ah, what a different life from mine!" said Dorothea,
with keen interest, clasping her hands on her lap. "I have
always had too much of everything. But tell me how it was--
Mr. Casaubon could not have known about you then."
"No; but my father had made himself known to Mr. Casaubon,
and that was my last hungry day. My father died soon after,
and my mother and I were well taken care of. Mr. Casaubon always
expressly recognized it as his duty to take care of us because of
the harsh injustice which had been shown to his mother's sister.
But now I am telling you what is not new to you."
In his inmost soul Will was conscious of wishing to tell Dorothea
what was rather new even in his own construction of things--
namely, that Mr. Casaubon had never done more than pay a debt
towards him. Will was much too good a fellow to be easy under
the sense of being ungrateful. And when gratitude has become
a matter of reasoning there are many ways of escaping from its bonds.
"No," answered Dorothea; "Mr. Casaubon has always avoided dwelling
on his own honorable actions." She did not feel that her husband's
conduct was depreciated; but this notion of what justice had required
in his relations with Will Ladislaw took strong hold on her mind.
After a moment's pause, she added, "He had never told me that he
supported your mother. Is she still living?"
"No; she died by an accident--a fall--four years ago. It is curious
that my mother, too, ran away from her family, but not for the sake
of her husband. She never would tell me anything about her family,
except that she forsook them to get her own living--went on the stage,
in fact. She was a dark-eyed creature, with crisp ringlets,
and never seemed to be getting old. You see I come of rebellious
blood on both sides," Will ended, smiling brightly at Dorothea,
while she was still looking with serious intentness before her,
like a child seeing a drama for the first time.
But her face, too, broke into a smile as she said, "That is
your apology, I suppose, for having yourself been rather rebellious;
I mean, to Mr. Casaubon's wishes. You must remember that you have
not done what he thought best for you. And if he dislikes you--
you were speaking of dislike a little while ago--but I should
rather say, if he has shown any painful feelings towards you,
you must consider how sensitive he has become from the wearing effect
of study. Perhaps," she continued, getting into a pleading tone,
"my uncle has not told you how serious Mr. Casaubon's illness was.
It would be very petty of us who are well and can bear things,
to think much of small offences from those who carry a weight
"You teach me better," said Will. "I will never grumble on that
subject again." There was a gentleness in his tone which came from
the unutterable contentment of perceiving--what Dorothea was hardly
conscious of--that she was travelling into the remoteness of pure
pity and loyalty towards her husband. Will was ready to adore
her pity and loyalty, if she would associate himself with her in
manifesting them. "I have really sometimes been a perverse fellow,"
he went on, "but I will never again, if I can help it, do or say
what you would disapprove."
"That is very good of you," said Dorothea, with another open smile.
"I shall have a little kingdom then, where I shall give laws.
But you will soon go away, out of my rule, I imagine. You will soon
be tired of staying at the Grange."
"That is a point I wanted to mention to you--one of the reasons why I
wished to speak to you alone. Mr. Brooke proposes that I should stay
in this neighborhood. He has bought one of the Middlemarch newspapers,
and he wishes me to conduct that, and also to help him in other ways."
"Would not that be a sacrifice of higher prospects for you?"
"Perhaps; but I have always been blamed for thinking of prospects,
and not settling to anything. And here is something offered to me.
If you would not like me to accept it, I will give it up.
Otherwise I would rather stay in this part of the country than go away.
I belong to nobody anywhere else."
"I should like you to stay very much," said Dorothea, at once,
as simply and readily as she had spoken at Rome. There was not
the shadow of a reason in her mind at the moment why she should
not say so.
"Then I _will_ stay," said Ladislaw, shaking his head backward,
rising and going towards the window, as if to see whether the rain
But the next moment, Dorothea, according to a habit which was
getting continually stronger, began to reflect that her husband felt
differently from herself, and she colored deeply under the double
embarrassment of having expressed what might be in opposition to her
husband's feeling, and of having to suggest this opposition to Will.
If is face was not turned towards her, and this made it easier to say--
"But my opinion is of little consequence on such a subject.
I think you should be guided by Mr. Casaubon. I spoke without
thinking of anything else than my own feeling, which has
nothing to do with the real question. But it now occurs to me--
perhaps Mr. Casaubon might see that the proposal was not wise.
Can you not wait now and mention it to him?"
"I can't wait to-day," said Will, inwardly seared by the possibility
that Mr. Casaubon would enter. "The rain is quite over now. I told
Mr. Brooke not to call for me: I would rather walk the five miles.
I shall strike across Halsell Common, and see the gleams on the
wet grass. I like that."
He approached her to shake hands quite hurriedly, longing but not
daring to say, "Don't mention the subject to Mr. Casaubon."
No, he dared not, could not say it. To ask her to be less simple
and direct would be like breathing on the crystal that you want to
see the light through. And there was always the other great dread--
of himself becoming dimmed and forever ray-shorn in her eyes.
"I wish you could have stayed," said Dorothea, with a touch
of mournfulness, as she rose and put out her hand. She also had
her thought which she did not like to express:--Will certainly
ought to lose no time in consulting Mr. Casaubon's wishes,
but for her to urge this might seem an undue dictation.
So they only said "Good-by," and Will quitted the house,
striking across the fields so as not to run any risk of encountering
Mr. Casaubon's carriage, which, however, did not appear at the gate
until four o'clock. That was an unpropitious hour for coming home:
it was too early to gain the moral support under ennui of dressing
his person for dinner, and too late to undress his mind of the day's
frivolous ceremony and affairs, so as to be prepared for a good
plunge into the serious business of study. On such occasions he
usually threw into an easy-chair in the library, and allowed Dorothea
to read the London papers to him, closing his eyes the while.
To-day, however, he declined that relief, observing that he had
already had too many public details urged upon him; but he spoke
more cheerfully than usual, when Dorothea asked about his fatigue,
and added with that air of formal effort which never forsook
him even when he spoke without his waistcoat and cravat--
"I have had the gratification of meeting my former acquaintance,
Dr. Spanning, to-day, and of being praised by one who is himself
a worthy recipient of praise. He spoke very handsomely of my late
tractate on the Egyptian Mysteries,--using, in fact, terms which it
would not become me to repeat." In uttering the last clause,
Mr. Casaubon leaned over the elbow of his chair, and swayed his
head up and down, apparently as a muscular outlet instead of that
recapitulation which would not have been becoming.
"I am very glad you have had that pleasure," said Dorothea,
delighted to see her husband less weary than usual at this hour.
"Before you came I had been regretting that you happened to be
"Why so, my dear?" said Mr. Casaubon, throwing himself backward again.
"Because Mr. Ladislaw has been here; and he has mentioned a proposal
of my uncle's which I should like to know your opinion of."
Her husband she felt was really concerned in this question.
Even with her ignorance of the world she had a vague impression
that the position offered to Will was out of keeping with his family
connections, and certainly Mr. Casaubon had a claim to be consulted.
He did not speak, but merely bowed.
"Dear uncle, you know, has many projects. It appears that he
has bought one of the Middlemarch newspapers, and he has asked
Mr. Ladislaw to stay in this neighborhood and conduct the paper
for him, besides helping him in other ways."
Dorothea looked at her husband while she spoke, but he had at
first blinked and finally closed his eyes, as if to save them;
while his lips became more tense. "What is your opinion?" she added,
rather timidly, after a slight pause.
"Did Mr. Ladislaw come on purpose to ask my opinion?" said Mr. Casaubon,
opening his eyes narrowly with a knife-edged look at Dorothea.
She was really uncomfortable on the point he inquired about, but she
only became a little more serious, and her eyes did not swerve.
"No," she answered immediately, "he did not say that he came to ask
your opinion. But when he mentioned the proposal, he of course
expected me to tell you of it."
Mr. Casaubon was silent.
"I feared that you might feel some objection. But certainly
a young man with so much talent might be very useful to my uncle--
might help him to do good in a better way. And Mr. Ladislaw wishes
to have some fixed occupation. He has been blamed, he says,
for not seeking something of that kind, and he would like to stay
in this neighborhood because no one cares for him elsewhere."
Dorothea felt that this was a consideration to soften her husband.
However, he did not speak, and she presently recurred to Dr. Spanning
and the Archdeacon's breakfast. But there was no longer sunshine
on these subjects.
The next morning, without Dorothea's knowledge, Mr. Casaubon
despatched the following letter, beginning "Dear Mr. Ladislaw"
(he had always before addressed him as "Will"):--
"Mrs. Casaubon informs me that a proposal has been made to you,
and (according to an inference by no means stretched) has on your
part been in some degree entertained, which involves your residence
in this neighborhood in a capacity which I am justified in saying
touches my own position in such a way as renders it not only natural
and warrantable in me when that effect is viewed under the
influence of legitimate feeling, but incumbent on me when the same
effect is considered in the light of my responsibilities, to state
at once that your acceptance of the proposal above indicated would
be highly offensive to me. That I have some claim to the exercise
of a veto here, would not, I believe, be denied by any reasonable
person cognizant of the relations between us: relations which,
though thrown into the past by your recent procedure, are not
thereby annulled in their character of determining antecedents.
I will not here make reflections on any person's judgment.
It is enough for me to point out to yourself that there are certain
social fitnesses and proprieties which should hinder a somewhat
near relative of mine from becoming any wise conspicuous in this
vicinity in a status not only much beneath my own, but associated
at best with the sciolism of literary or political adventurers.
At any rate, the contrary issue must exclude you from further
reception at my house.
Meanwhile Dorothea's mind was innocently at work towards the further
embitterment of her husband; dwelling, with a sympathy that grew to
agitation, on what Will had told her about his parents and grandparents.
Any private hours in her day were usually spent in her blue-green
boudoir, and she had come to be very fond of its pallid quaintness.
Nothing had been outwardly altered there; but while the summer had
gradually advanced over the western fields beyond the avenue of elms,
the bare room had gathered within it those memories of an inward life
which fill the air as with a cloud of good or bad angels, the invisible
yet active forms of our spiritual triumphs or our spiritual falls.
She had been so used to struggle for and to find resolve in looking
along the avenue towards the arch of western light that the vision
itself had gained a communicating power. Even the pale stag seemed
to have reminding glances and to mean mutely, "Yes, we know."
And the group of delicately touched miniatures had made an audience
as of beings no longer disturbed about their own earthly lot,
but still humanly interested. Especially the mysterious "Aunt Julia"
about whom Dorothea had never found it easy to question her husband.
And now, since her conversation with Will, many fresh images
had gathered round that Aunt Julia who was Will's grandmother;
the presence of that delicate miniature, so like a living face
that she knew, helping to concentrate her feelings. What a wrong,
to cut off the girl from the family protection and inheritance only
because she had chosen a man who was poor! Dorothea, early troubling
her elders with questions about the facts around her, had wrought
herself into some independent clearness as to the historical,
political reasons why eldest sons had superior rights, and why land
should be entailed: those reasons, impressing her with a certain awe,
might be weightier than she knew, but here was a question of ties
which left them uninfringed. Here was a daughter whose child--
even according to the ordinary aping of aristocratic institutions
by people who are no more aristocratic than retired grocers,
and who have no more land to "keep together" than a lawn and a paddock--
would have a prior claim. Was inheritance a question of liking
or of responsibility? All the energy of Dorothea's nature went on
the side of responsibility--the fulfilment of claims founded on our
own deeds, such as marriage and parentage.
It was true, she said to herself, that Mr. Casaubon had a debt
to the Ladislaws--that he had to pay back what the Ladislaws had
been wronged of. And now she began to think of her husband's will,
which had been made at the time of their marriage, leaving the bulk
of his property to her, with proviso in case of her having children.
That ought to be altered; and no time ought to be lost. This very
question which had just arisen about Will Ladislaw's occupation,
was the occasion for placing things on a new, right footing.
Her husband, she felt sure, according to all his previous conduct,
would be ready to take the just view, if she proposed it--she, in whose
interest an unfair concentration of the property had been urged.
His sense of right had surmounted and would continue to surmount
anything that might be called antipathy. She suspected that her
uncle's scheme was disapproved by Mr. Casaubon, and this made it seem
all the more opportune that a fresh understanding should be begun,
so that instead of Will's starting penniless and accepting the first
function that offered itself, he should find himself in possession
of a rightful income which should be paid by her husband during
his life, and, by an immediate alteration of the will, should
be secured at his death. The vision of all this as what ought
to be done seemed to Dorothea like a sudden letting in of daylight,
waking her from her previous stupidity and incurious self-absorbed
ignorance about her husband's relation to others. Will Ladislaw
had refused Mr. Casaubon's future aid on a ground that no longer
appeared right to her; and Mr. Casaubon had never himself seen
fully what was the claim upon him. "But he will!" said Dorothea.
"The great strength of his character lies here. And what are we
doing with our money? We make no use of half of our income. My own
money buys me nothing but an uneasy conscience."
There was a peculiar fascination for Dorothea in this division of
property intended for herself, and always regarded by her as excessive.
She was blind, you see, to many things obvious to others--
likely to tread in the wrong places, as Celia had warned her;
yet her blindness to whatever did not lie in her own pure purpose
carried her safely by the side of precipices where vision would
have been perilous with fear.
The thoughts which had gathered vividness in the solitude of her
boudoir occupied her incessantly through the day on which Mr. Casaubon
had sent his letter to Will. Everything seemed hindrance to her till
she could find an opportunity of opening her heart to her husband.
To his preoccupied mind all subjects were to be approached gently,
and she had never since his illness lost from her consciousness
the dread of agitating him. Bat when young ardor is set brooding
over the conception of a prompt deed, the deed itself seems
to start forth with independent life, mastering ideal obstacles.
The day passed in a sombre fashion, not unusual, though Mr. Casaubon
was perhaps unusually silent; but there were hours of the night which
might be counted on as opportunities of conversation; for Dorothea,
when aware of her husband's sleeplessness, had established a habit
of rising, lighting a candle, and reading him to sleep again. And this
night she was from the beginning sleepless, excited by resolves.
He slept as usual for a few hours, but she had risen softly and had
sat in the darkness for nearly an hour before he said--
"Dorothea, since you are up, will you light a candle?"
"Do you feel ill, dear?" was her first question, as she obeyed him.
"No, not at all; but I shall be obliged, since you are up, if you
will read me a few pages of Lowth."
"May I talk to you a little instead?" said Dorothea.
"I have been thinking about money all day--that I have always
had too much, and especially the prospect of too much."
"These, my dear Dorothea, are providential arrangements."
"But if one has too much in consequence of others being wronged,
it seems to me that the divine voice which tells us to set that wrong
right must be obeyed."
"What, my love, is the bearing of your remark?"
"That you have been too liberal in arrangements for me--I mean,
with regard to property; and that makes me unhappy."
"How so? I have none but comparatively distant connections."
"I have been led to think about your aunt Julia, and how she was left
in poverty only because she married a poor man, an act which was
not disgraceful, since he was not unworthy. It was on that ground,
I know, that you educated Mr. Ladislaw and provided for his mother."
Dorothea waited a few moments for some answer that would help her onward.
None came, and her next words seemed the more forcible to her,
falling clear upon the dark silence.
"But surely we should regard his claim as a much greater one, even to
the half of that property which I know that you have destined for me.
And I think he ought at once to be provided for on that understanding.
It is not right that he should be in the dependence of poverty
while we are rich. And if there is any objection to the proposal
he mentioned, the giving him his true place and his true share
would set aside any motive for his accepting it."
"Mr. Ladislaw has probably been speaking to you on this subject?"
said Mr. Casaubon, with a certain biting quickness not habitual
"Indeed, no!" said Dorothea, earnestly. "How can you imagine it,
since he has so lately declined everything from you? I fear you
think too hardly of him, dear. He only told me a little about his
parents and grandparents, and almost all in answer to my questions.
You are so good, so just--you have done everything you thought
to be right. But it seems to me clear that more than that is right;
and I must speak about it, since I am the person who would get what is
called benefit by that `more' not being done."
There was a perceptible pause before Mr. Casaubon replied,
not quickly as before, but with a still more biting emphasis.
"Dorothea, my love, this is not the first occasion, but it were well
that it should be the last, on which you have assumed a judgment
on subjects beyond your scope. Into the question how far conduct,
especially in the matter of alliances, constitutes a forfeiture
of family claims, I do not now enter. Suffice it, that you
are not here qualified to discriminate. What I now wish you to
understand is, that I accept no revision, still less dictation within
that range of affairs which I have deliberated upon as distinctly
and properly mine. It is not for you to interfere between me
and Mr. Ladislaw, and still less to encourage communications
from him to you which constitute a criticism on my procedure."
Poor Dorothea, shrouded in the darkness, was in a tumult of
conflicting emotions. Alarm at the possible effect on himself of her
husband's strongly manifested anger, would have checked any expression
of her own resentment, even if she had been quite free from doubt
and compunction under the consciousness that there might be some
justice in his last insinuation. Hearing him breathe quickly after
he had spoken, she sat listening, frightened, wretched--with a dumb
inward cry for help to bear this nightmare of a life in which every
energy was arrested by dread. But nothing else happened, except
that they both remained a long while sleepless, without speaking again.
The next day, Mr. Casaubon received the following answer from
"DEAR MR. CASAUBON,--I have given all due consideration to your letter
of yesterday, but I am unable to take precisely your view of our
mutual position. With the fullest acknowledgment of your generous
conduct to me in the past, I must still maintain that an obligation
of this kind cannot fairly fetter me as you appear to expect that
it should. Granted that a benefactor's wishes may constitute a claim;
there must always be a reservation as to the quality of those wishes.
They may possibly clash with more imperative considerations.
Or a benefactor's veto might impose such a negation on a man's life
that the consequent blank might be more cruel than the benefaction
was generous. I am merely using strong illustrations. In the present
case I am unable to take your view of the bearing which my acceptance
of occupation--not enriching certainly, but not dishonorable--
will have on your own position which seems to me too substantial
to be affected in that shadowy manner. And though I do not believe
that any change in our relations will occur (certainly none has
yet occurred) which can nullify the obligations imposed on me
by the past, pardon me for not seeing that those obligations should
restrain me from using the ordinary freedom of living where I choose,
and maintaining myself by any lawful occupation I may choose.
Regretting that there exists this difference between us as to a relation
in which the conferring of benefits has been entirely on your side--
I remain, yours with persistent obligation,
Poor Mr. Casaubon felt (and must not we, being impartial, feel with him
a little?) that no man had juster cause for disgust and suspicion
than he. Young Ladislaw, he was sure, meant to defy and annoy him,
meant to win Dorothea's confidence and sow her mind with disrespect,
and perhaps aversion, towards her husband. Some motive beneath
the surface had been needed to account for Will's sudden change
of in rejecting Mr. Casaubon's aid and quitting his travels;
and this defiant determination to fix himself in the neighborhood
by taking up something so much at variance with his former choice
as Mr. Brooke's Middlemarch projects, revealed clearly enough that
the undeclared motive had relation to Dorothea. Not for one moment
did Mr. Casaubon suspect Dorothea of any doubleness: he had no
suspicions of her, but he had (what was little less uncomfortable)
the positive knowledge that her tendency to form opinions about
her husband's conduct was accompanied with a disposition to regard
Will Ladislaw favorably and be influenced by what he said.
His own proud reticence had prevented him from ever being undeceived
in the supposition that Dorothea had originally asked her uncle
to invite Will to his house.
And now, on receiving Will's letter, Mr. Casaubon had to consider
his duty. He would never have been easy to call his action anything
else than duty; but in this case, contending motives thrust him
back into negations.
Should he apply directly to Mr. Brooke, and demand of that troublesome
gentleman to revoke his proposal? Or should he consult Sir James Chettam,
and get him to concur in remonstrance against a step which touched
the whole family? In either case Mr. Casaubon was aware that failure
was just as probable as success. It was impossible for him to mention
Dorothea's name in the matter, and without some alarming urgency
Mr. Brooke was as likely as not, after meeting all representations
with apparent assent, to wind up by saying, "Never fear, Casaubon!
Depend upon it, young Ladislaw will do you credit. Depend upon it,
I have put my finger on the right thing." And Mr. Casaubon shrank
nervously from communicating on the subject with Sir James Chettam,
between whom and himself there had never been any cordiality,
and who would immediately think of Dorothea without any mention of her.
Poor Mr. Casaubon was distrustful of everybody's feeling towards him,
especially as a husband. To let any one suppose that he was jealous
would be to admit their (suspected) view of his disadvantages:
to let them know that he did not find marriage particularly blissful
would imply his conversion to their (probably) earlier disapproval.
It would be as bad as letting Carp, and Brasenose generally,
know how backward he was in organizing the matter for his
"Key to all Mythologies." All through his life Mr. Casaubon had been
trying not to admit even to himself the inward sores of self-doubt
and jealousy. And on the most delicate of all personal subjects,
the habit of proud suspicious reticence told doubly.
Thus Mr. Casaubon remained proudly, bitterly silent. But he
had forbidden Will to come to Lowick Manor, and he was mentally
preparing other measures of frustration.
"C'est beaucoup que le jugement des hommes sur les actions
humaines; tot ou tard il devient efficace."--GUIZOT.
Sir James Chettam could not look with any satisfaction on Mr. Brooke's
new courses; but it was easier to object than to hinder.
Sir James accounted for his having come in alone one day to lunch
with the Cadwalladers by saying--
"I can't talk to you as I want, before Celia: it might hurt her.
Indeed, it would not be right."
"I know what you mean--the `Pioneer' at the Grange!" darted in
Mrs. Cadwallader, almost before the last word was off her friend's
tongue. "It is frightful--this taking to buying whistles and blowing
them in everybody's hearing. Lying in bed all day and playing
at dominoes, like poor Lord Plessy, would be more private and bearable."
"I see they are beginning to attack our friend Brooke in the `Trumpet,'"
said the Rector, lounging back and smiling easily, as he would
have done if he had been attacked himself. "There are tremendous
sarcasms against a landlord not a hundred miles from Middlemarch,
who receives his own rents, and makes no returns."
"I do wish Brooke would leave that off," said Sir James, with his
little frown of annoyance.
"Is he really going to be put in nomination, though?"
said Mr. Cadwallader. "I saw Farebrother yesterday--
he's Whiggish himself, hoists Brougham and Useful Knowledge;
that's the worst I know of him;--and he says that Brooke is
getting up a pretty strong party. Bulstrode, the banker, is his
foremost man. But he thinks Brooke would come off badly at a nomination."
"Exactly," said Sir James, with earnestness. "I have been inquiring
into the thing, for I've never known anything about Middlemarch
politics before--the county being my business. What Brooke trusts to,
is that they are going to turn out Oliver because he is a Peelite.
But Hawley tells me that if they send up a Whig at all it is sure to
be Bagster, one of those candidates who come from heaven knows where,
but dead against Ministers, and an experienced Parliamentary man.
Hawley's rather rough: he forgot that he was speaking to me.
He said if Brooke wanted a pelting, he could get it cheaper than
by going to the hustings."
"I warned you all of it," said Mrs. Cadwallader, waving her
hands outward. "I said to Humphrey long ago, Mr. Brooke is going
to make a splash in the mud. And now he has done it."
"Well, he might have taken it into his head to marry," said the Rector.
"That would have been a graver mess than a little flirtation
"He may do that afterwards," said Mrs. Cadwallader--"when he has
come out on the other side of the mud with an ague."
"What I care for most is his own dignity," said Sir James.
"Of course I care the more because of the family. But he's getting
on in life now, and I don't like to think of his exposing himself.
They will be raking up everything against him."
"I suppose it's no use trying any persuasion," said the Rector.
"There's such an odd mixture of obstinacy and changeableness in Brooke.
Have you tried him on the subject?"
"Well, no," said Sir James; "I feel a delicacy in appearing to dictate.
But I have been talking to this young Ladislaw that Brooke is
making a factotum of. Ladislaw seems clever enough for anything.
I thought it as well to hear what he had to say; and he is against
Brooke's standing this time. I think he'll turn him round:
I think the nomination may be staved off."
"I know," said Mrs. Cadwallader, nodding. "The independent member
hasn't got his speeches well enough by heart."
"But this Ladislaw--there again is a vexatious business,"
said Sir James. "We have had him two or three times to dine at
the Hall (you have met him, by the bye) as Brooke's guest and a
relation of Casaubon's, thinking he was only on a flying visit.
And now I find he's in everybody's mouth in Middlemarch as the editor
of the `Pioneer.' There are stories going about him as a quill-driving
alien, a foreign emissary, and what not."
"Casaubon won't like that," said the Rector.
"There _is_ some foreign blood in Ladislaw," returned Sir James.
"I hope he won't go into extreme opinions and carry Brooke on."
"Oh, he's a dangerous young sprig, that Mr. Ladislaw,"
said Mrs. Cadwallader, "with his opera songs and his ready tongue.
A sort of Byronic hero--an amorous conspirator, it strikes me.
And Thomas Aquinas is not fond of him. I could see that, the day
the picture was brought."
"I don't like to begin on the subject with Casaubon," said Sir James.
"He has more right to interfere than I. But it's a disagreeable
affair all round. What a character for anybody with decent
connections to show himself in!--one of those newspaper fellows!
You have only to look at Keck, who manages the `Trumpet.'
I saw him the other day with Hawley. His writing is sound enough,
I believe, but he's such a low fellow, that I wished he had been on
the wrong side."
"What can you expect with these peddling Middlemarch papers?"
said the Rector. "I don't suppose you could get a high style of man
anywhere to be writing up interests he doesn't really care about,
and for pay that hardly keeps him in at elbows."
"Exactly: that makes it so annoying that Brooke should have put
a man who has a sort of connection with the family in a position
of that kind. For my part, I think Ladislaw is rather a fool
"It is Aquinas's fault," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "Why didn't he use
his interest to get Ladislaw made an attache or sent to India?
That is how families get rid of troublesome sprigs."
"There is no knowing to what lengths the mischief may go,"
said Sir James, anxiously. "But if Casaubon says nothing, what can
"Oh my dear Sir James," said the Rector, "don't let us make too
much of all this. It is likely enough to end in mere smoke.
After a month or two Brooke and this Master Ladislaw will get
tired of each other; Ladislaw will take wing; Brooke will sell
the `Pioneer,' and everything will settle down again as usual."
"There is one good chance--that he will not like to feel his money
oozing away," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "If I knew the items of election
expenses I could scare him. It's no use plying him with wide words
like Expenditure: I wouldn't talk of phlebotomy, I would empty
a pot of leeches upon him. What we good stingy people don't like,
is having our sixpences sucked away from us."
"And he will not like having things raked up against him,"
said Sir James. "There is the management of his estate. They have
begun upon that already. And it really is painful for me to see.
It is a nuisance under one's very nose. I do think one is bound
to do the best for one's land and tenants, especially in these
"Perhaps the `Trumpet' may rouse him to make a change, and some good
may come of it all," said the Rector. "I know I should be glad.
I should hear less grumbling when my tithe is paid. I don't know
what I should do if there were not a modus in Tipton."
"I want him to have a proper man to look after things--I want him
to take on Garth again," said Sir James. "He got rid of Garth
twelve years ago, and everything has been going wrong since.
I think of getting Garth to manage for me--he has made such a capital
plan for my buildings; and Lovegood is hardly up to the mark.
But Garth would not undertake the Tipton estate again unless Brooke
left it entirely to him."
"In the right of it too," said the Rector. "Garth is an
independent fellow: an original, simple-minded fellow. One day,
when he was doing some valuation for me, he told me point-blank
that clergymen seldom understood anything about business, and did
mischief when they meddled; but he said it as quietly and respectfully
as if he had been talking to me about sailors. He would make
a different parish of Tipton, if Brooke would let him manage.
I wish, by the help of the `Trumpet,' you could bring that round."
"If Dorothea had kept near her uncle, there would have been
some chance," said Sir James. "She might have got some power
over him in time, and she was always uneasy about the estate.
She had wonderfully good notions about such things. But now
Casaubon takes her up entirely. Celia complains a good deal.
We can hardly get her to dine with us, since he had that fit."
Sir James ended with a look of pitying disgust, and Mrs. Cadwallader
shrugged her shoulders as much as to say that _she_ was not likely
to see anything new in that direction.
"Poor Casaubon!" the Rector said. "That was a nasty attack.
I thought he looked shattered the other day at the Archdeacon's."
"In point of fact," resumed Sir James, not choosing to dwell on
"fits," "Brooke doesn't mean badly by his tenants or any one else,
but he has got that way of paring and clipping at expenses."
"Come, that's a blessing," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "That helps him
to find himself in a morning. He may not know his own opinions,
but he does know his own pocket."
"I don't believe a man is in pocket by stinginess on his land,"
said Sir James.
"Oh, stinginess may be abused like other virtues: it will not do
to keep one's own pigs lean," said Mrs. Cadwallader, who had risen
to look out of the window. "But talk of an independent politician
and he will appear."
"What! Brooke?" said her husband.
"Yes. Now, you ply him with the `Trumpet,' Humphrey; and I will
put the leeches on him. What will you do, Sir James?"
"The fact is, I don't like to begin about it with Brooke, in our
mutual position; the whole thing is so unpleasant. I do wish people
would behave like gentlemen," said the good baronet, feeling that
this was a simple and comprehensive programme for social well-being.
"Here you all are, eh?" said Mr. Brooke, shuffling round and
shaking hands. "I was going up to the Hall by-and-by, Chettam.
But it's pleasant to find everybody, you know. Well, what do
you think of things?--going on a little fast! It was true enough,
what Lafitte said--`Since yesterday, a century has passed away:'--
they're in the next century, you know, on the other side of the water.
Going on faster than we are."
"Why, yes," said the Rector, taking up the newspaper. "Here is
the `Trumpet' accusing you of lagging behind--did you see?"
"Eh? no," said Mr. Brooke, dropping his gloves into his hat
and hastily adjusting his eye-glass. But Mr. Cadwallader kept
the paper in his hand, saying, with a smile in his eyes--
"Look here! all this is about a landlord not a hundred
miles from Middlemarch, who receives his own rents.
They say he is the most retrogressive man in the county.
I think you must have taught them that word in the `Pioneer.'"
"Oh, that is Keek--an illiterate fellow, you know. Retrogressive, now!
Come, that's capital. He thinks it means destructive: they want
to make me out a destructive, you know," said Mr. Brooke, with
that cheerfulness which is usually sustained by an adversary's ignorance.
"I think he knows the meaning of the word. Here is a sharp stroke
or two. If we had to describe a man who is retrogressive in the
most evil sense of the word--we should say, he is one who would
dub himself a reformer of our constitution, while every interest
for which he is immediately responsible is going to decay:
a philanthropist who cannot bear one rogue to be hanged, but does
not mind five honest tenants being half-starved: a man who shrieks
at corruption, and keeps his farms at rack-rent: who roars himself
red at rotten boroughs, and does not mind if every field on his farms
has a rotten gate: a man very open-hearted to Leeds and Manchester,
no doubt; he would give any number of representatives who will pay
for their seats out of their own pockets: what he objects to giving,
is a little return on rent-days to help a tenant to buy stock,
or an outlay on repairs to keep the weather out at a tenant's barn-door
or make his house look a little less like an Irish cottier's. But
we all know the wag's definition of a philanthropist: a man whose
charity increases directly as the square of the distance. And so on.
All the rest is to show what sort of legislator a philanthropist
is likely to make," ended the Rector, throwing down the paper,
and clasping his hands at the back of his head, while he looked at
Mr. Brooke with an air of amused neutrality.
"Come, that's rather good, you know," said Mr. Brooke, taking up
the paper and trying to bear the attack as easily as his neighbor did,
but coloring and smiling rather nervously; "that about roaring himself
red at rotten boroughs--I never made a speech about rotten boroughs
in my life. And as to roaring myself red and that kind of thing--
these men never understand what is good satire. Satire, you know,
should be true up to a certain point. I recollect they said that in
`The Edinburgh' somewhere--it must be true up to a certain point."
"Well, that is really a hit about the gates," said Sir James,
anxious to tread carefully. "Dagley complained to me the other day
that he hadn't got a decent gate on his farm. Garth has invented
a new pattern of gate--I wish you would try it. One ought to use
some of one's timber in that way."
"You go in for fancy farming, you know, Chettam," said Mr. Brooke,
appearing to glance over the columns of the "Trumpet."
"That's your hobby, and you don't mind the expense."
"I thought the most expensive hobby in the world was standing
for Parliament," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "They said the last
unsuccessful candidate at Middlemarch--Giles, wasn't his name?--
spent ten thousand pounds and failed because he did not bribe enough.
What a bitter reflection for a man!"
"Somebody was saying," said the Rector, laughingly, "that East
Retford was nothing to Middlemarch, for bribery."
"Nothing of the kind," said Mr. Brooke. "The Tories bribe,
you know: Hawley and his set bribe with treating, hot codlings,
and that sort of thing; and they bring the voters drunk to the poll.
But they are not going to have it their own way in future--
not in future, you know. Middlemarch is a little backward, I admit--
the freemen are a little backward. But we shall educate them--
we shall bring them on, you know. The best people there are on
"Hawley says you have men on your side who will do you harm,"
remarked Sir James. "He says Bulstrode the banker will do you harm."
"And that if you got pelted," interposed Mrs. Cadwallader, "half the
rotten eggs would mean hatred of your committee-man. Good heavens!
Think what it must be to be pelted for wrong opinions. And I seem
to remember a story of a man they pretended to chair and let him
fall into a dust-heap on purpose!"
"Pelting is nothing to their finding holes in one's coat,"
said the Rector. "I confess that's what I should be afraid of,
if we parsons had to stand at the hustings for preferment.
I should be afraid of their reckoning up all my fishing days.
Upon my word, I think the truth is the hardest missile one can be
"The fact is," said Sir James, "if a man goes into public life he
must be prepared for the consequences. He must make himself proof
"My dear Chettam, that is all very fine, you know," said Mr. Brooke.
"But how will you make yourself proof against calumny? You should
read history--look at ostracism, persecution, martyrdom, and that
kind of thing. They always happen to the best men, you know.
But what is that in Horace?--'fiat justitia, ruat . . .
something or other."
"Exactly," said Sir James, with a little more heat than usual.
"What I mean by being proof against calumny is being able to point
to the fact as a contradiction."
"And it is not martyrdom to pay bills that one has run into one's self,"
said Mrs. Cadwallader.
But it was Sir James's evident annoyance that most stirred Mr. Brooke.
"Well, you know, Chettam," he said, rising, taking up his hat
and leaning on his stick, "you and I have a different system.
You are all for outlay with your farms. I don't want to make out that
my system is good under all circumstances--under all circumstances,
"There ought to be a new valuation made from time to time,"
said Sir James. "Returns are very well occasionally, but I
like a fair valuation. What do you say, Cadwallader?"
"I agree with you. If I were Brooke, I would choke the `Trumpet'
at once by getting Garth to make a new valuation of the farms,
and giving him carte blanche about gates and repairs:
that's my view of the political situation," said the Rector,
broadening himself by sticking his thumbs in his armholes,
and laughing towards Mr. Brooke.
"That's a showy sort of thing to do, you know," said Mr. Brooke.
"But I should like you to tell me of another landlord who has
distressed his tenants for arrears as little as I have. I let
the old tenants stay on. I'm uncommonly easy, let me tell you,
uncommonly easy. I have my own ideas, and I take my stand on them,
you know. A man who does that is always charged with eccentricity,
inconsistency, and that kind of thing. When I change my line of action,
I shall follow my own ideas."
After that, Mr. Brooke remembered that there was a packet which he
had omitted to send off from the Grange, and he bade everybody
"I didn't want to take a liberty with Brooke," said Sir James;
"I see he is nettled. But as to what he says about old tenants,
in point of fact no new tenant would take the farms on the
"I have a notion that he will be brought round in time,"
said the Rector. "But you were pulling one way, Elinor, and we
were pulling another. You wanted to frighten him away from expense,
and we want to frighten him into it. Better let him try to be
popular and see that his character as a landlord stands in his way.
I don't think it signifies two straws about the `Pioneer,'
or Ladislaw, or Brooke's speechifying to the Middlemarchers.
But it does signify about the parishioners in Tipton being comfortable."
"Excuse me, it is you two who are on the wrong tack,"
said Mrs. Cadwallader. "You should have proved to him that he loses
money by bad management, and then we should all have pulled together.
If you put him a-horseback on politics, I warn you of the consequences.
It was all very well to ride on sticks at home and call them ideas."
"If, as I have, you also doe,
Vertue attired in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too,
And forget the He and She;
And if this love, though placed so,
From prophane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
Or, if they doe, deride:
Then you have done a braver thing
Than all the Worthies did,
And a braver thence will spring,
Which is, to keep that hid."
Sir James Chettam's mind was not fruitful in devices, but his growing
anxiety to "act on Brooke," once brought close to his constant
belief in Dorothea's capacity for influence, became formative,
and issued in a little plan; namely, to plead Celia's indisposition
as a reason for fetching Dorothea by herself to the Hall, and to
leave her at the Grange with the carriage on the way, after making
her fully aware of the situation concerning the management of the estate.
In this way it happened that one day near four o'clock, when
Mr. Brooke and Ladislaw were seated in the library, the door
opened and Mrs. Casaubon was announced.
Will, the moment before, had been low in the depths of boredom, and,
obliged to help Mr. Brooke in arranging "documents" about hanging
sheep-stealers, was exemplifying the power our minds have of riding
several horses at once by inwardly arranging measures towards getting
a lodging for himself in Middlemarch and cutting short his constant
residence at the Grange; while there flitted through all these steadier
images a tickling vision of a sheep-stealing epic written with
Homeric particularity. When Mrs. Casaubon was announced he started
up as from an electric shock, and felt a tingling at his finger-ends.
Any one observing him would have seen a change in his complexion,
in the adjustment of his facial muscles, in the vividness of his glance,
which might have made them imagine that every molecule in his
body had passed the message of a magic touch. And so it had.
For effective magic is transcendent nature; and who shall measure
the subtlety of those touches which convey the quality of soul
as well as body, and make a man's passion for one woman differ from
his passion for another as joy in the morning light over valley and
river and white mountain-top differs from joy among Chinese lanterns
and glass panels? Will, too, was made of very impressible stuff.
The bow of a violin drawn near him cleverly, would at one stroke
change the aspect of the world for him, and his point of view shifted--
as easily as his mood. Dorothea's entrance was the freshness of morning.
"Well, my dear, this is pleasant, now," said Mr. Brooke, meeting and
kissing her. "You have left Casaubon with his books, I suppose.
That's right. We must not have you getting too learned for a woman,
"There is no fear of that, uncle," said Dorothea, turning to Will
and shaking hands with open cheerfulness, while she made no other form
of greeting, but went on answering her uncle. "I am very slow.
When I want to be busy with books, I am often playing truant among
my thoughts. I find it is not so easy to be learned as to plan cottages."
She seated herself beside her uncle opposite to Will, and was evidently
preoccupied with something that made her almost unmindful of him.
He was ridiculously disappointed, as if he had imagined that her
coming had anything to do with him.
"Why, yes, my dear, it was quite your hobby to draw plans.
But it was good to break that off a little. Hobbies are apt
to ran away with us, you know; it doesn't do to be run away with.
We must keep the reins. I have never let myself be run away with;
I always pulled up. That is what I tell Ladislaw. He and I
are alike, you know: he likes to go into everything. We are
working at capital punishment. We shall do a great deal together,
Ladislaw and I."
"Yes," said Dorothea, with characteristic directness, "Sir James has
been telling me that he is in hope of seeing a great change made soon
in your management of the estate--that you are thinking of having
the farms valued, and repairs made, and the cottages improved,
so that Tipton may look quite another place. Oh, how happy!"--
she went on, clasping her hands, with a return to that more childlike
impetuous manner, which had been subdued since her marriage.
"If I were at home still, I should take to riding again, that I might
go about with you and see all that! And you are going to engage
Mr. Garth, who praised my cottages, Sir James says."
"Chettam is a little hasty, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, coloring slightly;
"a little hasty, you know. I never said I should do anything
of the kind. I never said I should _not_ do it, you know."
"He only feels confident that you will do it," said Dorothea,
in a voice as clear and unhesitating as that of a young chorister
chanting a credo, "because you mean to enter Parliament as a member
who cares for the improvement of the people, and one of the first
things to be made better is the state of the land and the laborers.
Think of Kit Downes, uncle, who lives with his wife and seven children
in a house with one sitting room and one bedroom hardly larger than
this table!--and those poor Dagleys, in their tumble-down farmhouse,
where they live in the back kitchen and leave the other rooms to
the rats! That is one reason why I did not like the pictures here,
dear uncle--which you think me stupid about. I used to come from the
village with all that dirt and coarse ugliness like a pain within me,
and the simpering pictures in the drawing-room seemed to me like a
wicked attempt to find delight in what is false, while we don't
mind how hard the truth is for the neighbors outside our walls.
I think we have no right to come forward and urge wider changes
for good, until we have tried to alter the evils which lie under
our own hands."
Dorothea had gathered emotion as she went on, and had forgotten
everything except the relief of pouring forth her feelings, unchecked:
an experience once habitual with her, but hardly ever present since
her marriage, which had been a perpetual struggle of energy with fear.
For the moment, Will's admiration was accompanied with a chilling
sense of remoteness. A man is seldom ashamed of feeling that he
cannot love a woman so well when he sees a certain greatness in her:
nature having intended greatness for men. But nature has sometimes
made sad oversights in carrying out her intention; as in the case
of good Mr. Brooke, whose masculine consciousness was at this moment
in rather a stammering condition under the eloquence of his niece.
He could not immediately find any other mode of expressing himself
than that of rising, fixing his eye-glass, and fingering the papers
before him. At last he said--
"There is something in what you say, my dear, something in
what you say--but not everything--eh, Ladislaw? You and I
don't like our pictures and statues being found fault with.
Young ladies are a little ardent, you know--a little one-sided,
my dear. Fine art, poetry, that kind of thing, elevates a nation--
emollit mores--you understand a little Latin now. But--eh? what?"
These interrogatives were addressed to the footman who had
come in to say that the keeper had found one of Dagley's
boys with a leveret in his hand just killed.
"I'll come, I'll come. I shall let him off easily, you know,"
said Mr. Brooke aside to Dorothea, shuffling away very cheerfully.
"I hope you feel how right this change is that I--that Sir James
wishes for," said Dorothea to Will, as soon as her uncle was gone.
"I do, now I have heard you speak about it. I shall not forget what
you have said. But can you think of something else at this moment?
I may not have another opportunity of speaking to you about what
has occurred," said Will, rising with a movement of impatience,
and holding the back of his chair with both hands.
"Pray tell me what it is," said Dorothea, anxiously, also rising
and going to the open window, where Monk was looking in,
panting and wagging his tail. She leaned her back against the
window-frame, and laid her hand on the dog's head; for though,
as we know, she was not fond of pets that must be held in the hands
or trodden on, she was always attentive to the feelings of dogs,
and very polite if she had to decline their advances.
Will followed her only with his eyes and said, "I presume you know
that Mr. Casaubon has forbidden me to go to his house."
"No, I did not," said Dorothea, after a moment's pause. She was
evidently much moved. "I am very, very sorry," she added, mournfully.
She was thinking of what Will had no knowledge of--the conversation
between her and her husband in the darkness; and she was anew smitten
with hopelessness that she could influence Mr. Casaubon's action.
But the marked expression of her sorrow convinced Will that it
was not all given to him personally, and that Dorothea had not been
visited by the idea that Mr. Casaubon's dislike and jealousy of him
turned upon herself. He felt an odd mixture of delight and vexation:
of delight that he could dwell and be cherished in her thought as in
a pure home, without suspicion and without stint--of vexation because
he was of too little account with her, was not formidable enough,
was treated with an unhesitating benevolence which did not flatter him.
But his dread of any change in Dorothea was stronger than his discontent,
and he began to speak again in a tone of mere explanation.
"Mr. Casaubon's reason is, his displeasure at my taking a position
here which he considers unsuited to my rank as his cousin.
I have told him that I cannot give way on this point. It is a little
too hard on me to expect that my course in life is to be hampered
by prejudices which I think ridiculous. Obligation may be stretched
till it is no better than a brand of slavery stamped on us when we
were too young to know its meaning. I would not have accepted
the position if I had not meant to make it useful and honorable.
I am not bound to regard family dignity in any other light."
Dorothea felt wretched. She thought her husband altogether
in the wrong, on more grounds than Will had mentioned.
"It is better for us not to speak on the subject," she said,
with a tremulousness not common in her voice, "since you and
Mr. Casaubon disagree. You intend to remain?" She was looking
out on the lawn, with melancholy meditation.
"Yes; but I shall hardly ever see you now," said Will, in a tone
of almost boyish complaint.
"No," said Dorothea, turning her eyes full upon him, "hardly ever.
But I shall hear of you. I shall know what you are doing for
"I shall know hardly anything about you," said Will. "No one
will tell me anything."
"Oh, my life is very simple," said Dorothea, her lips curling
with an exquisite smile, which irradiated her melancholy.
"I am always at Lowick."
"That is a dreadful imprisonment," said Will, impetuously.
"No, don't think that," said Dorothea. "I have no longings."
He did not speak, but she replied to some change in his expression.
"I mean, for myself. Except that I should like not to have so much
more than my share without doing anything for others. But I have
a belief of my own, and it comforts me."
"What is that?" said Will, rather jealous of the belief.
"That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't
quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part
of the divine power against evil--widening the skirts of light
and making the struggle with darkness narrower."
"That is a beautiful mysticism--it is a--"
"Please not to call it by any name," said Dorothea, putting out
her hands entreatingly. "You will say it is Persian, or something
else geographical. It is my life. I have found it out, and cannot
part with it. I have always been finding out my religion since I
was a little girl. I used to pray so much--now I hardly ever pray.
I try not to have desires merely for myself, because they may not
be good for others, and I have too much already. I only told you,
that you might know quite well how my days go at Lowick."
"God bless you for telling me!" said Will, ardently, and rather
wondering at himself. They were looking at each other like two
fond children who were talking confidentially of birds.
"What is _your_ religion?" said Dorothea. "I mean--not what you
know about religion, but the belief that helps you most?"
"To love what is good and beautiful when I see it," said Will.
"But I am a rebel: I don't feel bound, as you do, to submit to what I
"But if you like what is good, that comes to the same thing,"
said Dorothea, smiling.
"Now you are subtle," said Will.
"Yes; Mr. Casaubon often says I am too subtle. I don't feel as if I
were subtle," said Dorothea, playfully. "But how long my uncle is!
I must go and look for him. I must really go on to the Hall.
Celia is expecting me."
Will offered to tell Mr. Brooke, who presently came and said
that he would step into the carriage and go with Dorothea as far
as Dagley's, to speak about the small delinquent who had been caught
with the leveret. Dorothea renewed the subject of the estate
as they drove along, but Mr. Brooke, not being taken unawares,
got the talk under his own control.
"Chettam, now," he replied; "he finds fault with me, my dear;
but I should not preserve my game if it were not for Chettam,
and he can't say that that expense is for the sake of the tenants,
you know. It's a little against my feeling:--poaching, now, if you
come to look into it--I have often thought of getting up the subject.
Not long ago, Flavell, the Methodist preacher, was brought up for
knocking down a hare that came across his path when he and his wife
were walking out together. He was pretty quick, and knocked it on
"That was very brutal, I think," said Dorothea
"Well, now, it seemed rather black to me, I confess, in a
Methodist preacher, you know. And Johnson said, `You may judge