Part 10 out of 18
One of the facts quickly rumored was that Lydgate did not dispense drugs.
This was offensive both to the physicians whose exclusive distinction
seemed infringed on, and to the surgeon-apothecaries with whom he
ranged himself; and only a little while before, they might have counted
on having the law on their side against a man who without calling
himself a London-made M.D. dared to ask for pay except as a charge
on drugs. But Lydgate had not been experienced enough to foresee
that his new course would be even more offensive to the laity;
and to Mr. Mawmsey, an important grocer in the Top Market, who,
though not one of his patients, questioned him in an affable manner
on the subject, he was injudicious enough to give a hasty popular
explanation of his reasons, pointing out to Mr. Mawmsey that it
must lower the character of practitioners, and be a constant injury
to the public, if their only mode of getting paid for their work
was by their making out long bills for draughts, boluses, and mixtures.
"It is in that way that hard-working medical men may come to be almost
as mischievous as quacks," said Lydgate, rather thoughtlessly.
"To get their own bread they must overdose the king's lieges;
and that's a bad sort of treason, Mr. Mawmsey--undermines the
constitution in a fatal way."
Mr. Mawmsey was not only an overseer (it was about a question of
outdoor pay that he was having an interview with Lydgate), he was
also asthmatic and had an increasing family: thus, from a medical
point of view, as well as from his own, he was an important man;
indeed, an exceptional grocer, whose hair was arranged in a
flame-like pyramid, and whose retail deference was of the cordial,
encouraging kind--jocosely complimentary, and with a certain
considerate abstinence from letting out the full force of his mind.
It was Mr. Mawmsey's friendly jocoseness in questioning him which
had set the tone of Lydgate's reply. But let the wise be warned
against too great readiness at explanation: it multiplies the
sources of mistake, lengthening the sum for reckoners sure to go wrong.
Lydgate smiled as he ended his speech, putting his foot into
the stirrup, and Mr. Mawmsey laughed more than he would have
done if he had known who the king's lieges were, giving his
"Good morning, sir, good-morning, sir," with the air of one who saw
everything clearly enough. But in truth his views were perturbed.
For years he had been paying bills with strictly made items,
so that for every half-crown and eighteen-pence he was certain
something measurable had been delivered. He had done this with
satisfaction, including it among his responsibilities as a husband
and father, and regarding a longer bill than usual as a dignity
worth mentioning. Moreover, in addition to the massive benefit
of the drugs to "self and family," he had enjoyed the pleasure
of forming an acute judgment as to their immediate effects, so as
to give an intelligent statement for the guidance of Mr. Gambit--
a practitioner just a little lower in status than Wrench or Toller,
and especially esteemed as an accoucheur, of whose ability Mr. Mawmsey
had the poorest opinion on all other points, but in doctoring,
he was wont to say in an undertone, he placed Gambit above any of them.
Here were deeper reasons than the superficial talk of a new man,
which appeared still flimsier in the drawing-room over the shop,
when they were recited to Mrs. Mawmsey, a woman accustomed to be
made much of as a fertile mother,--generally under attendance more
or less frequent from Mr. Gambit, and occasionally having attacks
which required Dr. Minchin.
"Does this Mr. Lydgate mean to say there is no use in taking medicine?"
said Mrs. Mawmsey, who was slightly given to drawling. "I should
like him to tell me how I could bear up at Fair time, if I didn't
take strengthening medicine for a month beforehand. Think of what I
have to provide for calling customers, my dear!"--here Mrs. Mawmsey
turned to an intimate female friend who sat by--"a large veal pie--
a stuffed fillet--a round of beef--ham, tongue, et cetera,
et cetera! But what keeps me up best is the pink mixture,
not the brown. I wonder, Mr. Mawmsey, with _your_ experience,
you could have patience to listen. I should have told him at once
that I knew a little better than that."
"No, no, no," said Mr. Mawmsey; "I was not going to tell him
my opinion. Hear everything and judge for yourself is my motto.
But he didn't know who he was talking to. I was not to be turned
on _his_ finger. People often pretend to tell me things, when they
might as well say, `Mawmsey, you're a fool.' But I smile at it:
I humor everybody's weak place. If physic had done harm to self
and family, I should have found it out by this time."
The next day Mr. Gambit was told that Lydgate went about saying
physic was of no use.
"Indeed!" said he, lifting his eyebrows with cautious surprise.
(He was a stout husky man with a large ring on his fourth finger.)
"How will he cure his patients, then?"
"That is what I say," returned Mrs. Mawmsey, who habitually gave
weight to her speech by loading her pronouns. "Does _he_ suppose
that people will pay him only to come and sit with them and go
Mrs. Mawmsey had had a great deal of sitting from Mr. Gambit,
including very full accounts of his own habits of body and other affairs;
but of course he knew there was no innuendo in her remark, since his
spare time and personal narrative had never been charged for.
So he replied, humorously--
"Well, Lydgate is a good-looking young fellow, you know."
"Not one that I would employ," said Mrs. Mawmsey. "_Others_
may do as they please."
Hence Mr. Gambit could go away from the chief grocer's without
fear of rivalry, but not without a sense that Lydgate was one
of those hypocrites who try to discredit others by advertising
their own honesty, and that it might be worth some people's while
to show him up. Mr. Gambit, however, had a satisfactory practice,
much pervaded by the smells of retail trading which suggested
the reduction of cash payments to a balance. And he did not
think it worth his while to show Lydgate up until he knew how.
He had not indeed great resources of education, and had had to work
his own way against a good deal of professional contempt; but he made
none the worse accoucheur for calling the breathing apparatus "longs."
Other medical men felt themselves more capable. Mr. Toller shared the
highest practice in the town and belonged to an old Middlemarch family:
there were Tollers in the law and everything else above the line
of retail trade. Unlike our irascible friend Wrench, he had the
easiest way in the world of taking things which might be supposed
to annoy him, being a well-bred, quietly facetious man, who kept
a good house, was very fond of a little sporting when he could get it,
very friendly with Mr. Hawley, and hostile to Mr. Bulstrode.
It may seem odd that with such pleasant habits he should have been
given to the heroic treatment, bleeding and blistering and starving
his patients, with a dispassionate disregard to his personal example;
but the incongruity favored the opinion of his ability among
his patients, who commonly observed that Mr. Toller had lazy manners,
but his treatment was as active as you could desire: no man,
said they, carried more seriousness into his profession: he was
a little slow in coming, but when he came, he _did_ something.
He was a great favorite in his own circle, and whatever he implied
to any one's disadvantage told doubly from his careless ironical tone.
He naturally got tired of smiling and saying, "Ah!" when he was told
that Mr. Peacock's successor did not mean to dispense medicines;
and Mr. Hackbutt one day mentioning it over the wine at a dinner-party,
Mr. Toller said, laughingly, "Dibbitts will get rid of his
stale drugs, then. I'm fond of little Dibbitts--I'm glad he's in luck."
"I see your meaning, Toller," said Mr. Hackbutt, "and I am entirely
of your opinion. I shall take an opportunity of expressing myself
to that effect. A medical man should be responsible for the
quality of the drugs consumed by his patients. That is the rationale
of the system of charging which has hitherto obtained;
and nothing is more offensive than this ostentation of reform,
where there is no real amelioration."
"Ostentation, Hackbutt?" said Mr. Toller, ironically. "I don't
see that. A man can't very well be ostentatious of what nobody
believes in. There's no reform in the matter: the question is,
whether the profit on the drugs is paid to the medical man by the
druggist or by the patient, and whether there shall be extra pay
under the name of attendance."
"Ah, to be sure; one of your damned new versions of old humbug,"
said Mr. Hawley, passing the decanter to Mr. Wrench.
Mr. Wrench, generally abstemious, often drank wine rather freely
at a party, getting the more irritable in consequence.
"As to humbug, Hawley," he said, "that's a word easy to fling about.
But what I contend against is the way medical men are fouling their
own nest, and setting up a cry about the country as if a general
practitioner who dispenses drugs couldn't be a gentleman. I throw
back the imputation with scorn. I say, the most ungentlemanly trick
a man can be guilty of is to come among the members of his profession
with innovations which are a libel on their time-honored procedure.
That is my opinion, and I am ready to maintain it against any one who
contradicts me." Mr. Wrench's voice had become exceedingly sharp.
"I can't oblige you there, Wrench," said Mr. Hawley, thrusting his
hands into his trouser-pockets.
"My dear fellow," said Mr. Toller, striking in pacifically! and
looking at Mr. Wrench, "the physicians have their toes trodden
on more than we have. If you come to dignity it is a question
for Minchin and Sprague."
"Does medical jurisprudence provide nothing against these infringements?"
said Mr. Hackbutt, with a disinterested desire to offer his lights.
"How does the law stand, eh, Hawley?"
"Nothing to be done there," said Mr. Hawley. "I looked into
it for Sprague. You'd only break your nose against a damned
"Pooh! no need of law," said Mr. Toller. "So far as practice is
concerned the attempt is an absurdity. No patient will like it--
certainly not Peacock's, who have been used to depletion.
Pass the wine."
Mr. Toller's prediction was partly verified. If Mr. and Mrs. Mawmsey,
who had no idea of employing Lydgate, were made uneasy by his supposed
declaration against drugs, it was inevitable that those who called
him in should watch a little anxiously to see whether he did "use
all the means he might use" in the case. Even good Mr. Powderell,
who in his constant charity of interpretation was inclined to
esteem Lydgate the more for what seemed a conscientious pursuit
of a better plan, had his mind disturbed with doubts during his
wife's attack of erysipelas, and could not abstain from mentioning
to Lydgate that Mr. Peacock on a similar occasion had administered
a series of boluses which were not otherwise definable than by their
remarkable effect in bringing Mrs. Powderell round before Michaelmas
from an illness which had begun in a remarkably hot August.
At last, indeed, in the conflict between his desire not to hurt
Lydgate and his anxiety that no "means" should be lacking,
he induced his wife privately to take Widgeon's Purifying Pills,
an esteemed Middlemarch medicine, which arrested every disease
at the fountain by setting to work at once upon the blood.
This co-operative measure was not to be mentioned to Lydgate,
and Mr. Powderell himself had no certain reliance on it,
only hoping that it might be attended with a blessing.
But in this doubtful stage of Lydgate's introduction he was helped
by what we mortals rashly call good fortune. I suppose no doctor ever
came newly to a place without making cures that surprised somebody--
cures which may be called fortune's testimonials, and deserve as
much credit as the written or printed kind. Various patients got well
while Lydgate was attending them, some even of dangerous illnesses;
and it was remarked that the new doctor with his new ways had at
least the merit of bringing people back from the brink of death.
The trash talked on such occasions was the more vexatious to Lydgate,
because it gave precisely the sort of prestige which an incompetent
and unscrupulous man would desire, and was sure to be imputed to him
by the simmering dislike of the other medical men as an encouragement
on his own part of ignorant puffing. But even his proud outspokenness
was checked by the discernment that it was as useless to fight
against the interpretations of ignorance as to whip the fog;
and "good fortune" insisted on using those interpretations.
Mrs. Larcher having just become charitably concerned about alarming
symptoms in her charwoman, when Dr. Minchin called, asked him to see
her then and there, and to give her a certificate for the Infirmary;
whereupon after examination he wrote a statement of the case as one
of tumor, and recommended the bearer Nancy Nash as an out-patient. Nancy,
calling at home on her way to the Infirmary, allowed the stay maker
and his wife, in whose attic she lodged, to read Dr. Minchin's paper,
and by this means became a subject of compassionate conversation
in the neighboring shops of Churchyard Lane as being afflicted with
a tumor at first declared to be as large and hard as a duck's egg,
but later in the day to be about the size of "your fist."
Most hearers agreed that it would have to be cut out, but one had
known of oil and another of "squitchineal" as adequate to soften
and reduce any lump in the body when taken enough of into the inside--
the oil by gradually "soopling," the squitchineal by eating away.
Meanwhile when Nancy presented herself at the Infirmary, it happened
to be one of Lydgate's days there. After questioning and examining her,
Lydgate said to the house-surgeon in an undertone, "It's not tumor:
it's cramp." He ordered her a blister and some steel mixture,
and told her to go home and rest, giving her at the same time a note
to Mrs. Larcher, who, she said, was her best employer, to testify
that she was in need of good food.
But by-and-by Nancy, in her attic, became portentously worse,
the supposed tumor having indeed given way to the blister, but only
wandered to another region with angrier pain. The staymaker's wife
went to fetch Lydgate, and he continued for a fortnight to attend Nancy
in her own home, until under his treatment she got quite well and went
to work again. But the case continued to be described as one of tumor
in Churchyard Lane and other streets--nay, by Mrs. Larcher also;
for when Lydgate's remarkable cure was mentioned to Dr. Minchin,
he naturally did not like to say, "The case was not one of tumor,
and I was mistaken in describing it as such," but answered,
"Indeed! ah! I saw it was a surgical case, not of a fatal kind."
He had been inwardly annoyed, however, when he had asked at the
Infirmary about the woman he had recommended two days before,
to hear from the house-surgeon, a youngster who was not sorry
to vex Minchin with impunity, exactly what had occurred:
he privately pronounced that it was indecent in a general practitioner
to contradict a physician's diagnosis in that open manner,
and afterwards agreed with Wrench that Lydgate was disagreeably
inattentive to etiquette. Lydgate did not make the affair a ground
for valuing himself or (very particularly) despising Minchin,
such rectification of misjudgments often happening among men
of equal qualifications. But report took up this amazing case
of tumor, not clearly distinguished from cancer, and considered
the more awful for being of the wandering sort; till much prejudice
against Lydgate's method as to drugs was overcome by the proof
of his marvellous skill in the speedy restoration of Nancy Nash
after she had been rolling and rolling in agonies from the presence
of a tumor both hard and obstinate, but nevertheless compelled to yield.
How could Lydgate help himself? It is offensive to tell a lady
when she is expressing her amazement at your skill, that she is
altogether mistaken and rather foolish in her amazement. And to have
entered into the nature of diseases would only have added to his
breaches of medical propriety. Thus he had to wince under a promise
of success given by that ignorant praise which misses every valid quality.
In the case of a more conspicuous patient, Mr. Borthrop Trumbull,
Lydgate was conscious of having shown himself something better than
an every-day doctor, though here too it was an equivocal advantage
that he won. The eloquent auctioneer was seized with pneumonia,
and having been a patient of Mr. Peacock's, sent for Lydgate,
whom he had expressed his intention to patronize. Mr Trumbull was
a robust man, a good subject for trying the expectant theory upon--
watching the course of an interesting disease when left as much
as possible to itself, so that the stages might be noted for future
guidance; and from the air with which he described his sensations
Lydgate surmised that he would like to be taken into his medical
man's confidence, and be represented as a partner in his own cure.
The auctioneer heard, without much surprise, that his was a
constitution which (always with due watching) might be left to itself,
so as to offer a beautiful example of a disease with all its phases
seen in clear delineation, and that he probably had the rare strength
of mind voluntarily to become the test of a rational procedure,
and thus make the disorder of his pulmonary functions a general
benefit to society.
Mr. Trumbull acquiesced at once, and entered strongly into the view
that an illness of his was no ordinary occasion for medical science.
"Never fear, sir; you are not speaking to one who is altogether ignorant
of the vis medicatrix," said he, with his usual superiority
of expression, made rather pathetic by difficulty of breathing.
And he went without shrinking through his abstinence from drugs,
much sustained by application of the thermometer which implied
the importance of his temperature, by the sense that he furnished
objects for the microscope, and by learning many new words which
seemed suited to the dignity of his secretions. For Lydgate
was acute enough to indulge him with a little technical talk.
It may be imagined that Mr. Trumbull rose from his couch with a
disposition to speak of an illness in which he had manifested the
strength of his mind as well as constitution; and he was not backward
in awarding credit to the medical man who had discerned the quality of
patient he had to deal with. The auctioneer was not an ungenerous man,
and liked to give others their due, feeling that he could afford it.
He had caught the words "expectant method," and rang chimes on this
and other learned phrases to accompany the assurance that Lydgate "knew
a thing or two more than the rest of the doctors--was far better versed
in the secrets of his profession than the majority of his compeers."
This had happened before the affair of Fred Vincy's illness had given
to Mr. Wrench's enmity towards Lydgate more definite personal ground.
The new-comer already threatened to be a nuisance in the shape
of rivalry, and was certainly a nuisance in the shape of practical
criticism or reflections on his hard-driven elders, who had had
something else to do than to busy themselves with untried notions.
His practice had spread in one or two quarters, and from the
first the report of his high family had led to his being pretty
generally invited, so that the other medical men had to meet him
at dinner in the best houses; and having to meet a man whom you
dislike is not observed always to end in a mutual attachment.
There was hardly ever so much unanimity among them as in the opinion
that Lydgate was an arrogant young fellow, and yet ready for the
sake of ultimately predominating to show a crawling subservience
to Bulstrode. That Mr. Farebrother, whose name was a chief flag of the
anti-Bulstrode party, always defended Lydgate and made a friend of him,
was referred to Farebrother's unaccountable way of fighting on both sides.
Here was plenty of preparation for the outburst of professional
disgust at the announcement of the laws Mr. Bulstrode was laying
down for the direction of the New Hospital, which were the more
exasperating because there was no present possibility of interfering
with his will and pleasure, everybody except Lord Medlicote
having refused help towards the building, on the ground that they
preferred giving to the Old Infirmary. Mr. Bulstrode met all
the expenses, and had ceased to be sorry that he was purchasing
the right to carry out his notions of improvement without hindrance
from prejudiced coadjutors; but he had had to spend large sums,
and the building had lingered. Caleb Garth had undertaken it,
had failed during its progress, and before the interior fittings
were begun had retired from the management of the business;
and when referring to the Hospital he often said that however
Bulstrode might ring if you tried him, he liked good solid carpentry
and masonry, and had a notion both of drains and chimneys. In fact,
the Hospital had become an object of intense interest to Bulstrode,
and he would willingly have continued to spare a large yearly sum that
he might rule it dictatorially without any Board; but he had another
favorite object which also required money for its accomplishment:
he wished to buy some land in the neighborhood of Middlemarch,
and therefore he wished to get considerable contributions towards
maintaining the Hospital. Meanwhile he framed his plan of management.
The Hospital was to be reserved for fever in all its forms;
Lydgate was to be chief medical superintendent, that he might have free
authority to pursue all comparative investigations which his studies,
particularly in Paris, had shown him the importance of, the other
medical visitors having a consultative influence, but no power to
contravene Lydgate's ultimate decisions; and the general management
was to be lodged exclusively in the hands of five directors associated
with Mr. Bulstrode, who were to have votes in the ratio of their
contributions, the Board itself filling up any vacancy in its numbers,
and no mob of small contributors being admitted to a share of government.
There was an immediate refusal on the part of every medical man
in the town to become a visitor at the Fever Hospital.
"Very well," said Lydgate to Mr. Bulstrode, "we have a capital
house-surgeon and dispenser, a clear-headed, neat-handed fellow;
we'll get Webbe from Crabsley, as good a country practitioner
as any of them, to come over twice a-week, and in case of any
exceptional operation, Protheroe will come from Brassing.
I must work the harder, that's all, and I have given up my post
at the Infirmary. The plan will flourish in spite of them,
and then they'll be glad to come in. Things can't last as they are:
there must be all sorts of reform soon, and then young fellows may
be glad to come and study here." Lydgate was in high spirits.
"I shall not flinch, you may depend upon it, Mr. Lydgate,"
said Mr. Bulstrode. "While I see you carrying out high intentions
with vigor, you shall have my unfailing support. And I have humble
confidence that the blessing which has hitherto attended my efforts
against the spirit of evil in this town will not be withdrawn.
Suitable directors to assist me I have no doubt of securing.
Mr. Brooke of Tipton has already given me his concurrence,
and a pledge to contribute yearly: he has not specified the sum--
probably not a great one. But he will be a useful member of
A useful member was perhaps to be defined as one who would
originate nothing, and always vote with Mr. Bulstrode.
The medical aversion to Lydgate was hardly disguised now. Neither
Dr. Sprague nor Dr. Minchin said that he disliked Lydgate's knowledge,
or his disposition to improve treatment: what they disliked was
his arrogance, which nobody felt to be altogether deniable. They implied
that he was insolent, pretentious, and given to that reckless innovation
for the sake of noise and show which was the essence of the charlatan.
The word charlatan once thrown on the air could not be let drop.
In those days the world was agitated about the wondrous doings of
Mr. St. John Long, "noblemen and gentlemen" attesting his extraction
of a fluid like mercury from the temples of a patient.
Mr. Toller remarked one day, smilingly, to Mrs. Taft, that "Bulstrode
had found a man to suit him in Lydgate; a charlatan in religion
is sure to like other sorts of charlatans."
"Yes, indeed, I can imagine," said Mrs. Taft, keeping the number
of thirty stitches carefully in her mind all the while; "there are
so many of that sort. I remember Mr. Cheshire, with his irons,
trying to make people straight when the Almighty had made them crooked."
"No, no," said Mr. Toller, "Cheshire was all right--all fair
and above board. But there's St. John Long--that's the kind of
fellow we call a charlatan, advertising cures in ways nobody knows
anything about: a fellow who wants to make a noise by pretending
to go deeper than other people. The other day he was pretending
to tap a man's brain and get quicksilver out of it."
"Good gracious! what dreadful trifling with people's constitutions!"
said Mrs. Taft.
After this, it came to be held in various quarters that Lydgate
played even with respectable constitutions for his own purposes,
and how much more likely that in his flighty experimenting he
should make sixes and sevens of hospital patients. Especially it
was to be expected, as the landlady of the Tankard had said,
that he would recklessly cut up their dead bodies. For Lydgate
having attended Mrs. Goby, who died apparently of a heart-disease
not very clearly expressed in the symptoms, too daringly asked
leave of her relatives to open the body, and thus gave an offence
quickly spreading beyond Parley Street, where that lady had long
resided on an income such as made this association of her body
with the victims of Burke and Hare a flagrant insult to her memory.
Affairs were in this stage when Lydgate opened the subject of the
Hospital to Dorothea. We see that he was bearing enmity and silly
misconception with much spirit, aware that they were partly created
by his good share of success.
"They will not drive me away," he said, talking confidentially
in Mr. Farebrother's study. "I have got a good opportunity here,
for the ends I care most about; and I am pretty sure to get
income enough for our wants. By-and-by I shall go on as quietly
as possible: I have no seductions now away from home and work.
And I am more and more convinced that it will be possible to
demonstrate the homogeneous origin of all the tissues. Raspail and
others are on the same track, and I have been losing time."
"I have no power of prophecy there," said Mr. Farebrother,
who had been puffing at his pipe thoughtfully while Lydgate talked;
"but as to the hostility in the town, you'll weather it if you
"How am I to be prudent?" said Lydgate, "I just do what comes
before me to do. I can't help people's ignorance and spite,
any more than Vesalius could. It isn't possible to square one's
conduct to silly conclusions which nobody can foresee."
"Quite true; I didn't mean that. I meant only two things. One is,
keep yourself as separable from Bulstrode as you can: of course,
you can go on doing good work of your own by his help; but don't
get tied. Perhaps it seems like personal feeling in me to say so--
and there's a good deal of that, I own--but personal feeling is not
always in the wrong if you boil it down to the impressions which make
it simply an opinion."
"Bulstrode is nothing to me," said Lydgate, carelessly, "except on
public grounds. As to getting very closely united to him, I am not
fond enough of him for that. But what was the other thing you meant?"
said Lydgate, who was nursing his leg as comfortably as possible,
and feeling in no great need of advice.
"Why, this. Take care--experto crede--take care not to get
hampered about money matters. I know, by a word you let fall one day,
that you don't like my playing at cards so much for money. You are
right enough there. But try and keep clear of wanting small sums
that you haven't got. I am perhaps talking rather superfluously;
but a man likes to assume superiority over himself, by holding up
his bad example and sermonizing on it."
Lydgate took Mr. Farebrother's hints very cordially, though he
would hardly have borne them from another man. He could not help
remembering that he had lately made some debts, but these had
seemed inevitable, and he had no intention now to do more than
keep house in a simple way. The furniture for which he owed
would not want renewing; nor even the stock of wine for a long while.
Many thoughts cheered him at that time--and justly. A man
conscious of enthusiasm for worthy aims is sustained under petty
hostilities by the memory of great workers who had to fight their
way not without wounds, and who hover in his mind as patron saints,
invisibly helping. At home, that same evening when he had been
chatting with Mr. Farebrother, he had his long legs stretched
on the sofa, his head thrown back, and his hands clasped behind
it according to his favorite ruminating attitude, while Rosamond
sat at the piano, and played one tune after another, of which her
husband only knew (like the emotional elephant he was!) that they
fell in with his mood as if they had been melodious sea-breezes.
There was something very fine in Lydgate's look just then,
and any one might have been encouraged to bet on his achievement.
In his dark eyes and on his mouth and brow there was that placidity
which comes from the fulness of contemplative thought--the mind
not searching, but beholding, and the glance seeming to be filled
with what is behind it.
Presently Rosamond left the piano and seated herself on a chair
close to the sofa and opposite her husband's face.
"Is that enough music for you, my lord?" she said, folding her hands
before her and putting on a little air of meekness.
"Yes, dear, if you are tired," said Lydgate, gently, turning his
eyes and resting them on her, but not otherwise moving.
Rosamond's presence at that moment was perhaps no more than a spoonful
brought to the lake, and her woman's instinct in this matter was not dull.
"What is absorbing you?" she said, leaning forward and bringing
her face nearer to his.
He moved his hands and placed them gently behind her shoulders.
"I am thinking of a great fellow, who was about as old as I am
three hundred years ago, and had already begun a new era in anatomy."
"I can't guess," said Rosamond, shaking her head. "We used to play
at guessing historical characters at Mrs. Lemon's, but not anatomists."
"I'll tell you. His name was Vesalius. And the only way he could get
to know anatomy as he did, was by going to snatch bodies at night,
from graveyards and places of execution."
"Oh!" said Rosamond, with a look of disgust on her pretty face,
"I am very glad you are not Vesalius. I should have thought he
might find some less horrible way than that."
"No, he couldn't," said Lydgate, going on too earnestly to take
much notice of her answer. "He could only get a complete skeleton
by snatching the whitened bones of a criminal from the gallows,
and burying them, and fetching them away by bits secretly, in the
dead of night."
"I hope he is not one of your great heroes," said Rosamond,
half playfully, half anxiously, "else I shall have you getting up
in the night to go to St. Peter's churchyard. You know how angry
you told me the people were about Mrs. Goby. You have enemies
"So had Vesalius, Rosy. No wonder the medical fogies in Middlemarch
are jealous, when some of the greatest doctors living were fierce
upon Vesalius because they had believed in Galen, and he showed
that Galen was wrong. They called him a liar and a poisonous monster.
But the facts of the human frame were on his side; and so he got
the better of them."
"And what happened to him afterwards?" said Rosamond, with some interest.
"Oh, he had a good deal of fighting to the last. And they did
exasperate him enough at one time to make him burn a good deal
of his work. Then he got shipwrecked just as he was coming from
Jerusalem to take a great chair at Padua. He died rather miserably."
There was a moment's pause before Rosamond said, "Do you know,
Tertius, I often wish you had not been a medical man."
"Nay, Rosy, don't say that," said Lydgate, drawing her closer to him.
"That is like saying you wish you had married another man."
"Not at all; you are clever enough for anything: you might easily
have been something else. And your cousins at Quallingham all think
that you have sunk below them in your choice of a profession."
"The cousins at Quallingham may go to the devil!" said Lydgate,
with scorn. "It was like their impudence if they said anything
of the sort to you."
"Still," said Rosamond, "I do _not_ think it is a nice profession,
dear." We know that she had much quiet perseverance in her opinion.
"It is the grandest profession in the world, Rosamond," said Lydgate,
gravely. "And to say that you love me without loving the medical man
in me, is the same sort of thing as to say that you like eating a peach
but don't like its flavor. Don't say that again, dear, it pains me."
"Very well, Doctor Grave-face," said Rosy, dimpling, "I will declare
in future that I dote on skeletons, and body-snatchers, and bits
of things in phials, and quarrels with everybody, that end in your
"No, no, not so bad as that," said Lydgate, giving up remonstrance
and petting her resignedly.
Pues no podemos haber aquello que queremos, queramos
aquello que podremos.
Since we cannot get what we like, let us like
what we can get.
While Lydgate, safely married and with the Hospital under his command,
felt himself struggling for Medical Reform against Middlemarch,
Middlemarch was becoming more and more conscious of the national
struggle for another kind of Reform.
By the time that Lord John Russell's measure was being debated
in the House of Commons, there was a new political animation
in Middlemarch, and a new definition of parties which might show
a decided change of balance if a new election came. And there
were some who already predicted this event, declaring that a
Reform Bill would never be carried by the actual Parliament.
This was what Will Ladislaw dwelt on to Mr. Brooke as a reason
for congratulation that he had not yet tried his strength at the hustings.
"Things will grow and ripen as if it were a comet year," said Will.
"The public temper will soon get to a cometary heat, now the question
of Reform has set in. There is likely to be another election before long,
and by that time Middlemarch will have got more ideas into its head.
What we have to work at now is the `Pioneer' and political meetings."
"Quite right, Ladislaw; we shall make a new thing of opinion here,"
said Mr. Brooke. "Only I want to keep myself independent
about Reform, you know; I don't want to go too far. I want
to take up. Wilberforce's and Romilly's line, you know,
and work at Negro Emancipation, Criminal Law--that kind of thing.
But of course I should support Grey."
"If you go in for the principle of Reform, you must be prepared
to take what the situation offers," said Will. "If everybody
pulled for his own bit against everybody else, the whole question
would go to tatters."
"Yes, yes, I agree with you--I quite take that point of view.
I should put it in that light. I should support Grey, you know.
But I don't want to change the balance of the constitution, and I don't
think Grey would."
"But that is what the country wants,"-said Will. "Else there would
be no meaning in political unions or any other movement that knows
what it's about. It wants to have a House of Commons which is not
weighted with nominees of the landed class, but with representatives
of the other interests. And as to contending for a reform short
of that, it is like asking for a bit of an avalanche which has
already begun to thunder."
"That is fine, Ladislaw: that is the way to put it. Write that
down, now. We must begin to get documents about the feeling
of the country, as well as the machine-breaking and general distress."
"As to documents," said Will, "a two-inch card will hold plenty.
A few rows of figures are enough to deduce misery from, and a few
more will show the rate at which the political determination of the
people is growing."
"Good: draw that out a little more at length, Ladislaw. That is
an idea, now: write it out in the `Pioneer.' Put the figures and
deduce the misery, you know; and put the other figures and deduce--
and so on. You have a way of putting things. Burke, now:--when I
think of Burke, I can't help wishing somebody had a pocket-borough
to give you, Ladislaw. You'd never get elected, you know.
And we shall always want talent in the House: reform as we will,
we shall always want talent. That avalanche and the thunder, now,
was really a little like Burke. I want that sort of thing--not ideas,
you know, but a way of putting them."
"Pocket-boroughs would be a fine thing," said Ladislaw, "if they
were always in the right pocket, and there were always a Burke
Will was not displeased with that complimentary comparison,
even from Mr. Brooke; for it is a little too trying to human flesh
to be conscious of expressing one's self better than others and
never to have it noticed, and in the general dearth of admiration
for the right thing, even a chance bray of applause falling
exactly in time is rather fortifying. Will felt that his literary
refinements were usually beyond the limits of Middlemarch perception;
nevertheless, he was beginning thoroughly to like the work
of which when he began he had said to himself rather languidly,
"Why not?"--and he studied the political situation with as ardent
an interest as he had ever given to poetic metres or mediaevalism.
It is undeniable that but for the desire to be where Dorothea was,
and perhaps the want of knowing what else to do, Will would not
at this time have been meditating on the needs of the English
people or criticising English statesmanship: he would probably
have been rambling in Italy sketching plans for several dramas,
trying prose and finding it too jejune, trying verse and finding
it too artificial, beginning to copy "bits" from old pictures,
leaving off because they were "no good," and observing that, after all,
self-culture was the principal point; while in politics he would
have been sympathizing warmly with liberty and progress in general.
Our sense of duty must often wait for some work which shall take
the place of dilettanteism and make us feel that the quality
of our action is not a matter of indifference.
Ladislaw had now accepted his bit of work, though it was not that
indeterminate loftiest thing which he had once dreamed of as alone
worthy of continuous effort. His nature warmed easily in the presence
of subjects which were visibly mixed with life and action, and the
easily stirred rebellion in him helped the glow of public spirit.
In spite of Mr. Casaubon and the banishment from Lowick, he was
rather happy; getting a great deal of fresh knowledge in a vivid
way and for practical purposes, and making the "Pioneer" celebrated
as far as Brassing (never mind the smallness of the area; the writing
was not worse than much that reaches the four corners of the earth).
Mr. Brooke was occasionally irritating; but Will's impatience was
relieved by the division of his time between visits to the Grange
and retreats to his Middlemarch lodgings, which gave variety
to his life.
"Shift the pegs a little," he said to himself, "and Mr. Brooke
might be in the Cabinet, while I was Under-Secretary. That is
the common order of things: the little waves make the large ones
and are of the same pattern. I am better here than in the sort
of life Mr. Casaubon would have trained me for, where the doing would
be all laid down by a precedent too rigid for me to react upon.
I don't care for prestige or high pay."
As Lydgate had said of him, he was a sort of gypsy, rather enjoying
the sense of belonging to no class; he had a feeling of romance
in his position, and a pleasant consciousness of creating a little
surprise wherever he went. That sort of enjoyment had been disturbed
when he had felt some new distance between himself and Dorothea
in their accidental meeting at Lydgate's, and his irritation had gone
out towards Mr. Casaubon, who had declared beforehand that Will
would lose caste. "I never had any caste," he would have said,
if that prophecy had been uttered to him, and the quick blood
would have come and gone like breath in his transparent skin.
But it is one thing to like defiance, and another thing to like
Meanwhile, the town opinion about the new editor of the "Pioneer"
was tending to confirm Mr. Casaubon's view. Will's relationship in
that distinguished quarter did not, like Lydgate's high connections,
serve as an advantageous introduction: if it was rumored that young
Ladislaw was Mr. Casaubon's nephew or cousin, it was also rumored
that "Mr. Casaubon would have nothing to do with him."
"Brooke has taken him up," said Mr. Hawley, "because that is what
no man in his senses could have expected. Casaubon has devilish
good reasons, you may be sure, for turning the cold shoulder on
a young fellow whose bringing-up he paid for. Just like Brooke--
one of those fellows who would praise a cat to sell a horse."
And some oddities of Will's, more or less poetical, appeared to support
Mr. Keck, the editor of the "Trumpet," in asserting that Ladislaw,
if the truth were known, was not only a Polish emissary but crack-brained,
which accounted for the preternatural quickness and glibness of his
speech when he got on to a platform--as he did whenever he had
an opportunity, speaking with a facility which cast reflections on
solid Englishmen generally. It was disgusting to Keck to see a strip
of a fellow, with light curls round his head, get up and speechify
by the hour against institutions "which had existed when he was
in his cradle." And in a leading article of the "Trumpet," Keck
characterized Ladislaw's speech at a Reform meeting as "the violence
of an energumen--a miserable effort to shroud in the brilliancy
of fireworks the daring of irresponsible statements and the poverty
of a knowledge which was of the cheapest and most recent description."
"That was a rattling article yesterday, Keck," said Dr. Sprague,
with sarcastic intentions. "But what is an energumen?"
"Oh, a term that came up in the French Revolution," said Keck.
This dangerous aspect of Ladislaw was strangely contrasted with
other habits which became matter of remark. He had a fondness,
half artistic, half affectionate, for little children--the smaller
they were on tolerably active legs, and the funnier their clothing,
the better Will liked to surprise and please them. We know
that in Rome he was given to ramble about among the poor people,
and the taste did not quit him in Middlemarch.
He had somehow picked up a troop of droll children, little hatless
boys with their galligaskins much worn and scant shirting to hang out,
little girls who tossed their hair out of their eyes to look at him,
and guardian brothers at the mature age of seven. This troop he
had led out on gypsy excursions to Halsell Wood at nutting-time,
and since the cold weather had set in he had taken them on a clear
day to gather sticks for a bonfire in the hollow of a hillside,
where he drew out a small feast of gingerbread for them, and improvised
a Punch-and-Judy drama with some private home-made puppets.
Here was one oddity. Another was, that in houses where he
got friendly, he was given to stretch himself at full length on the
rug while he talked, and was apt to be discovered in this attitude
by occasional callers for whom such an irregularity was likely
to confirm the notions of his dangerously mixed blood and general laxity.
But Will's articles and speeches naturally recommended him in
families which the new strictness of party division had marked
off on the side of Reform. He was invited to Mr. Bulstrode's;
but here he could not lie down on the rug, and Mrs. Bulstrode felt
that his mode of talking about Catholic countries, as if there
were any truce with Antichrist, illustrated the usual tendency
to unsoundness in intellectual men.
At Mr. Farebrother's, however, whom the irony of events had brought
on the same side with Bulstrode in the national movement, Will became
a favorite with the ladies; especially with little Miss Noble,
whom it was one of his oddities to escort when he met her in the
street with her little basket, giving her his arm in the eyes of
the town, and insisting on going with her to pay some call where she
distributed her small filchings from her own share of sweet things.
But the house where he visited oftenest and lay most on the rug
was Lydgate's. The two men were not at all alike, but they
agreed none the worse. Lydgate was abrupt but not irritable,
taking little notice of megrims in healthy people; and Ladislaw
did not usually throw away his susceptibilities on those who took
no notice of them. With Rosamond, on the other hand, he pouted and
was wayward--nay, often uncomplimentary, much to her inward surprise;
nevertheless he was gradually becoming necessary to her entertainment
by his companionship in her music, his varied talk, and his
freedom from the grave preoccupation which, with all her husband's
tenderness and indulgence, often made his manners unsatisfactory
to her, and confirmed her dislike of the medical profession.
Lydgate, inclined to be sarcastic on the superstitious faith of the people
in the efficacy of "the bill," while nobody cared about the low state
of pathology, sometimes assailed Will with troublesome questions.
One evening in March, Rosamond in her cherry-colored dress with
swansdown trimming about the throat sat at the tea-table; Lydgate,
lately come in tired from his outdoor work, was seated sideways
on an easy-chair by the fire with one leg over the elbow, his brow
looking a little troubled as his eyes rambled over the columns of
the "Pioneer," while Rosamond, having noticed that he was perturbed,
avoided looking at him, and inwardly thanked heaven that she herself
had not a moody disposition. Will Ladislaw was stretched on the rug
contemplating the curtain-pole abstractedly, and humming very low
the notes of "When first I saw thy face;" while the house spaniel,
also stretched out with small choice of room, looked from between
his paws at the usurper of the rug with silent but strong objection.
Rosamond bringing Lydgate his cup of tea, he threw down the paper,
and said to Will, who had started up and gone to the table--
"It's no use your puffing Brooke as a reforming landlord, Ladislaw:
they only pick the more holes in his coat in the `Trumpet.'"
"No matter; those who read the `Pioneer' don't read the `Trumpet,'"
said Will, swallowing his tea and walking about. "Do you suppose the
public reads with a view to its own conversion? We should have a witches'
brewing with a vengeance then--`Mingle, mingle, mingle, mingle, You
that mingle may'--and nobody would know which side he was going to take."
"Farebrother says, he doesn't believe Brooke would get elected
if the opportunity came: the very men who profess to be for him
would bring another member out of the bag at the right moment."
"There's no harm in trying. It's good to have resident members."
"Why?" said Lydgate, who was much given to use that inconvenient
word in a curt tone.
"They represent the local stupidity better," said Will, laughing,
and shaking his curls; "and they are kept on their best behavior in
the neighborhood. Brooke is not a bad fellow, but he has done some
good things on his estate that he never would have done but for this
"He's not fitted to be a public man," said Lydgate, with
contemptuous decision. "He would disappoint everybody
who counted on him: I can see that at the Hospital.
Only, there Bulstrode holds the reins and drives him."
"That depends on how you fix your standard of public men," said Will.
"He's good enough for the occasion: when the people have made up
their mind as they are making it up now, they don't want a man--
they only want a vote."
"That is the way with you political writers, Ladislaw--crying up
a measure as if it were a universal cure, and crying up men
who are a part of the very disease that wants curing."
"Why not? Men may help to cure themselves off the face of the land
without knowing it," said Will, who could find reasons impromptu,
when he had not thought of a question beforehand.
"That is no excuse for encouraging the superstitious exaggeration
of hopes about this particular measure, helping the cry to swallow
it whole and to send up voting popinjays who are good for nothing
but to carry it. You go against rottenness, and there is nothing
more thoroughly rotten than making people believe that society can
be cured by a political hocus-pocus."
"That's very fine, my dear fellow. But your cure must begin somewhere,
and put it that a thousand things which debase a population can
never be reformed without this particular reform to begin with.
Look what Stanley said the other day--that the House had been
tinkering long enough at small questions of bribery, inquiring whether
this or that voter has had a guinea when everybody knows that the
seats have been sold wholesale. Wait for wisdom and conscience
in public agents--fiddlestick! The only conscience we can trust
to is the massive sense of wrong in a class, and the best wisdom
that will work is the wisdom of balancing claims. That's my text--
which side is injured? I support the man who supports their claims;
not the virtuous upholder of the wrong."
"That general talk about a particular case is mere question
begging, Ladislaw. When I say, I go in for the dose that cures,
it doesn't follow that I go in for opium in a given case of gout."
"I am not begging the question we are upon--whether we are
to try for nothing till we find immaculate men to work with.
Should you go on that plan? If there were one man who would carry
you a medical reform and another who would oppose it, should you
inquire which had the better motives or even the better brains?"
"Oh, of course," said Lydgate, seeing himself checkmated by a move
which he had often used himself, "if one did not work with such men
as are at hand, things must come to a dead-lock. Suppose the worst
opinion in the town about Bulstrode were a true one, that would
not make it less true that he has the sense and the resolution
to do what I think ought to be done in the matters I know and care
most about; but that is the only ground on which I go with him,"
Lydgate added rather proudly, bearing in mind Mr. Farebrother's remarks.
"He is nothing to me otherwise; I would not cry him up on any
personal ground--I would keep clear of that."
"Do you mean that I cry up Brooke on any personal ground?" said Will
Ladislaw, nettled, and turning sharp round. For the first time he felt
offended with Lydgate; not the less so, perhaps, because he would have
declined any close inquiry into the growth of his relation to Mr. Brooke.
"Not at all," said Lydgate, "I was simply explaining my own action.
I meant that a man may work for a special end with others whose
motives and general course are equivocal, if he is quite sure
of his personal independence, and that he is not working for his
private interest--either place or money."
"Then, why don't you extend your liberality to others?" said Will,
still nettled. "My personal independence is as important to me as yours
is to you. You have no more reason to imagine that I have personal
expectations from Brooke, than I have to imagine that you have personal
expectations from Bulstrode. Motives are points of honor, I suppose--
nobody can prove them. But as to money and place in the world."
Will ended, tossing back his head, "I think it is pretty clear
that I am not determined by considerations of that sort."
"You quite mistake me, Ladislaw," said Lydgate, surprised. He had
been preoccupied with his own vindication, and had been blind
to what Ladislaw might infer on his own account. "I beg your
pardon for unintentionally annoying you. In fact, I should rather
attribute to you a romantic disregard of your own worldly interests.
On the political question, I referred simply to intellectual bias."
"How very unpleasant you both are this evening!" said Rosamond.
"I cannot conceive why money should have been referred to.
Polities and Medicine are sufficiently disagreeable to quarrel upon.
You can both of you go on quarrelling with all the world and with each
other on those two topics."
Rosamond looked mildly neutral as she said this, rising to ring
the bell, and then crossing to her work-table.
"Poor Rosy!" said Lydgate, putting out his hand to her as she
was passing him. "Disputation is not amusing to cherubs.
Have some music. Ask Ladislaw to sing with you."
When Will was gone Rosamond said to her husband, "What put you
out of temper this evening, Tertius?"
"Me? It was Ladislaw who was out of temper. He is like a bit
"But I mean, before that. Something had vexed you before you came in,
you looked cross. And that made you begin to dispute with Mr. Ladislaw.
You hurt me very much when you look so, Tertius."
"Do I? Then I am a brute," said Lydgate, caressing her penitently.
"What vexed you?"
"Oh, outdoor things--business." It was really a letter insisting
on the payment of a bill for furniture. But Rosamond was expecting
to have a baby, and Lydgate wished to save her from any perturbation.
Was never true love loved in vain,
For truest love is highest gain.
No art can make it: it must spring
Where elements are fostering.
So in heaven's spot and hour
Springs the little native flower,
Downward root and upward eye,
Shapen by the earth and sky.
It happened to be on a Saturday evening that Will Ladislaw had that
little discussion with Lydgate. Its effect when he went to his own
rooms was to make him sit up half the night, thinking over again,
under a new irritation, all that he had before thought of his having
settled in Middlemarch and harnessed himself with Mr. Brooke.
Hesitations before he had taken the step had since turned into
susceptibility to every hint that he would have been wiser not
to take it; and hence came his heat towards Lydgate--a heat which
still kept him restless. Was he not making a fool of himself?--
and at a time when he was more than ever conscious of being something
better than a fool? And for what end?
Well, for no definite end. True, he had dreamy visions of possibilities:
there is no human being who having both passions and thoughts does
not think in consequence of his passions--does not find images rising
in his mind which soothe the passion with hope or sting it with dread.
But this, which happens to us all, happens to some with a wide difference;
and Will was not one of those whose wit "keeps the roadway:"
he had his bypaths where there were little joys of his own choosing,
such as gentlemen cantering on the highroad might have thought
rather idiotic. The way in which he made a sort of happiness for
himself out of his feeling for Dorothea was an example of this.
It may seem strange, but it is the fact, that the ordinary vulgar
vision of which Mr. Casaubon suspected him--namely, that Dorothea
might become a widow, and that the interest he had established
in her mind might turn into acceptance of him as a husband--
had no tempting, arresting power over him; he did not live
in the scenery of such an event, and follow it out, as we all do
with that imagined "otherwise" which is our practical heaven.
It was not only that he was unwilling to entertain thoughts which
could be accused of baseness, and was already uneasy in the sense
that he had to justify himself from the charge of ingratitude--
the latent consciousness of many other barriers between himself
and Dorothea besides the existence of her husband, had helped
to turn away his imagination from speculating on what might befall
Mr. Casaubon. And there were yet other reasons. Will, we know,
could not bear the thought of any flaw appearing in his crystal:
he was at once exasperated and delighted by the calm freedom
with which Dorothea looked at him and spoke to him, and there
was something so exquisite in thinking of her just as she was,
that he could not long for a change which must somehow change her.
Do we not shun the street version of a fine melody?--or shrink from
the news that the rarity--some bit of chiselling or engraving perhaps--
which we have dwelt on even with exultation in the trouble it has
cost us to snatch glimpses of it, is really not an uncommon thing,
and may be obtained as an every-day possession? Our good depends
on the quality and breadth of our emotion; and to Will, a creature
who cared little for what are called the solid things of life and
greatly for its subtler influences, to have within him such a feeling
as he had towards Dorothea, was like the inheritance of a fortune.
What others might have called the futility of his passion, made an
additional delight for his imagination: he was conscious of a
generous movement, and of verifying in his own experience that higher
love-poetry which had charmed his fancy. Dorothea, he said to himself,
was forever enthroned in his soul: no other woman could sit higher
than her footstool; and if he could have written out in immortal
syllables the effect she wrought within him, he might have boasted
after the example of old Drayton, that,--
"Queens hereafter might be glad to live
Upon the alms of her superfluous praise."
But this result was questionable. And what else could he do
for Dorothea? What was his devotion worth to her? It was impossible
to tell. He would not go out of her reach. He saw no creature among
her friends to whom he could believe that she spoke with the same simple
confidence as to him. She had once said that she would like him to stay;
and stay he would, whatever fire-breathing dragons might hiss around her.
This had always been the conclusion of Will's hesitations.
But he was not without contradictoriness and rebellion even towards
his own resolve. He had often got irritated, as he was on this
particular night, by some outside demonstration that his public
exertions with Mr. Brooke as a chief could not seem as heroic
as he would like them to be, and this was always associated with
the other ground of irritation--that notwithstanding his sacrifice
of dignity for Dorothea's sake, he could hardly ever see her.
Whereupon, not being able to contradict these unpleasant facts,
he contradicted his own strongest bias and said, "I am a fool."
Nevertheless, since the inward debate necessarily turned on Dorothea,
he ended, as he had done before, only by getting a livelier sense
of what her presence would be to him; and suddenly reflecting that
the morrow would be Sunday, he determined to go to Lowick Church
and see her. He slept upon that idea, but when he was dressing
in the rational morning light, Objection said--
"That will be a virtual defiance of Mr. Casaubon's prohibition
to visit Lowick, and Dorothea will be displeased."
"Nonsense!" argued Inclination, "it would be too monstrous
for him to hinder me from going out to a pretty country church
on a spring morning. And Dorothea will be glad."
"It will be clear to Mr. Casaubon that you have come either to annoy
him or to see Dorothea."
"It is not true that I go to annoy him, and why should I not go
to see Dorothea? Is he to have everything to himself and be
always comfortable? Let him smart a little, as other people are
obliged to do. I have always liked the quaintness of the church and
congregation; besides, I know the Tuckers: I shall go into their pew."
Having silenced Objection by force of unreason, Will walked to
Lowick as if he had been on the way to Paradise, crossing Halsell
Common and skirting the wood, where the sunlight fell broadly under
the budding boughs, bringing out the beauties of moss and lichen,
and fresh green growths piercing the brown. Everything seemed to know
that it was Sunday, and to approve of his going to Lowick Church.
Will easily felt happy when nothing crossed his humor, and by this
time the thought of vexing Mr. Casaubon had become rather amusing
to him, making his face break into its merry smile, pleasant to see
as the breaking of sunshine on the water--though the occasion was
not exemplary. But most of us are apt to settle within ourselves
that the man who blocks our way is odious, and not to mind
causing him a little of the disgust which his personality excites
in ourselves. Will went along with a small book under his arm and
a hand in each side-pocket, never reading, but chanting a little,
as he made scenes of what would happen in church and coming out.
He was experimenting in tunes to suit some words of his own,
sometimes trying a ready-made melody, sometimes improvising.
The words were not exactly a hymn, but they certainly fitted his
"O me, O me, what frugal cheer
My love doth feed upon!
A touch, a ray, that is not here,
A shadow that is gone:
"A dream of breath that might be near,
An inly-echoed tone,
The thought that one may think me dear,
The place where one was known,
"The tremor of a banished fear,
An ill that was not done--
O me, O me, what frugal cheer
My love doth feed upon!"
Sometimes, when he took off his hat, shaking his head backward,
and showing his delicate throat as he sang, he looked like an incarnation
of the spring whose spirit filled the air--a bright creature,
abundant in uncertain promises.
The bells were still ringing when he got to Lowick, and he went into
the curate's pew before any one else arrived there. But he was still
left alone in it when the congregation had assembled. The curate's
pew was opposite the rector's at the entrance of the small chancel,
and Will had time to fear that Dorothea might not come while he
looked round at the group of rural faces which made the congregation
from year to year within the white-washed walls and dark old pews,
hardly with more change than we see in the boughs of a tree
which breaks here and there with age, but yet has young shoots.
Mr. Rigg's frog-face was something alien and unaccountable,
but notwithstanding this shock to the order of things, there were
still the Waules and the rural stock of the Powderells in their
pews side by side; brother Samuel's cheek had the same purple
round as ever, and the three generations of decent cottagers
came as of old with a sense of duty to their betters generally--
the smaller children regarding Mr. Casaubon, who wore the black gown
and mounted to the highest box, as probably the chief of all betters,
and the one most awful if offended. Even in 1831 Lowick was
at peace, not more agitated by Reform than by the solemn tenor
of the Sunday sermon. The congregation had been used to seeing
Will at church in former days, and no one took much note of him
except the choir, who expected him to make a figure in the singing.
Dorothea did at last appear on this quaint background, walking up
the short aisle in her white beaver bonnet and gray cloak--the same
she had worn in the Vatican. Her face being, from her entrance,
towards the chancel, even her shortsighted eyes soon discerned Will,
but there was no outward show of her feeling except a slight
paleness and a grave bow as she passed him. To his own surprise
Will felt suddenly uncomfortable, and dared not look at her after
they had bowed to each other. Two minutes later, when Mr. Casaubon
came out of the vestry, and, entering the pew, seated himself
in face of Dorothea, Will felt his paralysis more complete.
He could look nowhere except at the choir in the little gallery
over the vestry-door: Dorothea was perhaps pained, and he had made
a wretched blunder. It was no longer amusing to vex Mr. Casaubon,
who had the advantage probably of watching him and seeing that he
dared not turn his head. Why had he not imagined this beforehand?--
but he could not expect that he should sit in that square
pew alone, unrelieved by any Tuckers, who had apparently departed
from Lowick altogether, for a new clergyman was in the desk.
Still he called himself stupid now for not foreseeing that it would
be impossible for him to look towards Dorothea--nay, that she
might feel his coming an impertinence. There was no delivering
himself from his cage, however; and Will found his places and looked
at his book as if he had been a school-mistress, feeling that
the morning service had never been so immeasurably long before,
that he was utterly ridiculous, out of temper, and miserable.
This was what a man got by worshipping the sight of a woman!
The clerk observed with surprise that Mr. Ladislaw did not join in
the tune of Hanover, and reflected that he might have a cold.
Mr. Casaubon did not preach that morning, and there was no change
in Will's situation until the blessing had been pronounced and
every one rose. It was the fashion at Lowick for "the betters"
to go out first. With a sudden determination to break the spell
that was upon him, Will looked straight at Mr. Casaubon. But that
gentleman's eyes were on the button of the pew-door, which he opened,
allowing Dorothea to pass, and following her immediately without
raising his eyelids. Will's glance had caught Dorothea's as she
turned out of the pew, and again she bowed, but this time with a
look of agitation, as if she were repressing tears. Will walked
out after them, but they went on towards the little gate leading
out of the churchyard into the shrubbery, never looking round.
It was impossible for him to follow them, and he could only walk
back sadly at mid-day along the same road which he had trodden
hopefully in the morning. The lights were all changed for him
both without and within.
Surely the golden hours are turning gray
And dance no more, and vainly strive to run:
I see their white locks streaming in the wind--
Each face is haggard as it looks at me,
Slow turning in the constant clasping round
Dorothea's distress when she was leaving the church came chiefly
from the perception that Mr. Casaubon was determined not to speak
to his cousin, and that Will's presence at church had served
to mark more strongly the alienation between them. Will's coming
seemed to her quite excusable, nay, she thought it an amiable
movement in him towards a reconciliation which she herself had been
constantly wishing for. He had probably imagined, as she had,
that if Mr. Casaubon and he could meet easily, they would shake
hands and friendly intercourse might return. But now Dorothea felt
quite robbed of that hope. Will was banished further than ever,
for Mr. Casaubon must have been newly embittered by this thrusting
upon him of a presence which he refused to recognize.
He had not been very well that morning, suffering from some
difficulty in breathing, and had not preached in consequence;
she was not surprised, therefore, that he was nearly silent
at luncheon, still less that he made no allusion to Will Ladislaw.
For her own part she felt that she could never again introduce
that subject. They usually spent apart the hours between luncheon
and dinner on a Sunday; Mr. Casaubon in the library dozing chiefly,
and Dorothea in her boudoir, where she was wont to occupy
herself with some of her favorite books. There was a little
heap of them on the table in the bow-window--of various sorts,
from Herodotus, which she was learning to read with Mr. Casaubon,
to her old companion Pascal, and Keble's "Christian Year."
But to-day opened one after another, and could read none of them.
Everything seemed dreary: the portents before the birth of Cyrus--
Jewish antiquities--oh dear!--devout epigrams--the sacred chime
of favorite hymns--all alike were as flat as tunes beaten on wood:
even the spring flowers and the grass had a dull shiver in them
under the afternoon clouds that hid the sun fitfully; even the
sustaining thoughts which had become habits seemed to have in them
the weariness of long future days in which she would still live
with them for her sole companions. It was another or rather a
fuller sort of companionship that poor Dorothea was hungering for,
and the hunger had grown from the perpetual effort demanded by her
married life. She was always trying to be what her husband wished,
and never able to repose on his delight in what she was. The thing
that she liked, that she spontaneously cared to have, seemed to be
always excluded from her life; for if it was only granted and not
shared by her husband it might as well have been denied. About Will
Ladislaw there had been a difference between them from the first,
and it had ended, since Mr. Casaubon had so severely repulsed
Dorothea's strong feeling about his claims on the family property,
by her being convinced that she was in the right and her husband
in the wrong, but that she was helpless. This afternoon the
helplessness was more wretchedly benumbing than ever: she longed
for objects who could be dear to her, and to whom she could be dear.
She longed for work which would be directly beneficent like the
sunshine and the rain, and now it appeared that she was to live
more and more in a virtual tomb, where there was the apparatus
of a ghastly labor producing what would never see the light.
Today she had stood at the door of the tomb and seen Will Ladislaw
receding into the distant world of warm activity and fellowship--
turning his face towards her as he went.
Books were of no use. Thinking was of no use. It was Sunday, and she
could not have the carriage to go to Celia, who had lately had a baby.
There was no refuge now from spiritual emptiness and discontent,
and Dorothea had to bear her bad mood, as she would have borne
After dinner, at the hour when she usually began to read aloud,
Mr. Casaubon proposed that they should go into the library, where,
he said, he had ordered a fire and lights. He seemed to have revived,
and to be thinking intently.
In the library Dorothea observed that he had newly arranged a row
of his note-books on a table, and now he took up and put into her hand
a well-known volume, which was a table of contents to all the others.
"You will oblige me, my dear," he said, seating himself, "if instead
of other reading this evening, you will go through this aloud,
pencil in hand, and at each point where I say `mark,' will make a
cross with your pencil. This is the first step in a sifting process
which I have long had in view, and as we go on I shall be able
to indicate to you certain principles of selection whereby you will,
I trust, have an intelligent participation in my purpose."
This proposal was only one more sign added to many since his
memorable interview with Lydgate, that Mr. Casaubon's original
reluctance to let Dorothea work with him had given place to the
contrary disposition, namely, to demand much interest and labor from her.
After she had read and marked for two hours, he said, "We will
take the volume up-stairs--and the pencil, if you please--
and in case of reading in the night, we can pursue this task.
It is not wearisome to you, I trust, Dorothea?"
"I prefer always reading what you like best to hear," said Dorothea,
who told the simple truth; for what she dreaded was to exert herself
in reading or anything else which left him as joyless as ever.
It was a proof of the force with which certain characteristics
in Dorothea impressed those around her, that her husband,
with all his jealousy and suspicion, had gathered implicit trust
in the integrity of her promises, and her power of devoting herself
to her idea of the right and best. Of late he had begun to feel
that these qualities were a peculiar possession for himself,
and he wanted to engross them.
The reading in the night did come. Dorothea in her young weariness
had slept soon and fast: she was awakened by a sense of light,
which seemed to her at first like a sudden vision of sunset after
she had climbed a steep hill: she opened her eyes and saw her
husband wrapped in his warm gown seating himself in the arm-chair
near the fire-place where the embers were still glowing.
He had lit two candles, expecting that Dorothea would awake,
but not liking to rouse her by more direct means.
"Are you ill, Edward?" she said, rising immediately.
"I felt some uneasiness in a reclining posture. I will sit here
for a time." She threw wood on the fire, wrapped herself up,
and said, "You would like me to read to you?"
"You would oblige me greatly by doing so, Dorothea," said Mr. Casaubon,
with a shade more meekness than usual in his polite manner.
"I am wakeful: my mind is remarkably lucid."
"I fear that the excitement may be too great for you," said Dorothea,
remembering Lydgate's cautions.
"No, I am not conscious of undue excitement. Thought is easy."
Dorothea dared not insist, and she read for an hour or more on
the same plan as she had done in the evening, but getting over
the pages with more quickness. Mr. Casaubon's mind was more alert,
and he seemed to anticipate what was coming after a very slight
verbal indication, saying, "That will do--mark that"--or "Pass
on to the next head--I omit the second excursus on Crete."
Dorothea was amazed to think of the bird-like speed with which his
mind was surveying the ground where it had been creeping for years.
At last he said--
"Close the book now, my dear. We will resume our work to-morrow.
I have deferred it too long, and would gladly see it completed.
But you observe that the principle on which my selection is made,
is to give adequate, and not disproportionate illustration to each
of the theses enumerated in my introduction, as at present sketched.
You have perceived that distinctly, Dorothea?"
"Yes," said Dorothea, rather tremulously. She felt sick at heart.
"And now I think that I can take some repose," said Mr. Casaubon.
He laid down again and begged her to put out the lights. When she
had lain down too, and there was a darkness only broken by a dull
glow on the hearth, he said--
"Before I sleep, I have a request to make, Dorothea."
"What is it?" said Dorothea, with dread in her mind.
"It is that you will let me know, deliberately, whether, in case
of my death, you will carry out my wishes: whether you will avoid
doing what I should deprecate, and apply yourself to do what I
Dorothea was not taken by surprise: many incidents had been leading
her to the conjecture of some intention on her husband's part
which might make a new yoke for her. She did not answer immediately.
"You refuse?" said Mr. Casaubon, with more edge in his tone.
"No, I do not yet refuse," said Dorothea, in a clear voice, the need
of freedom asserting itself within her; "but it is too solemn--
I think it is not right--to make a promise when I am ignorant
what it will bind me to. Whatever affection prompted I would do
"But you would use your own judgment: I ask you to obey mine;
"No, dear, no!" said Dorothea, beseechingly, crushed by opposing fears.
"But may I wait and reflect a little while? I desire with my whole soul
to do what will comfort you; but I cannot give any pledge suddenly--
still less a pledge to do I know not what."
"You cannot then confide in the nature of my wishes?"
"Grant me till to-morrow," said Dorothea, beseechingly.
"Till to-morrow then," said Mr. Casaubon.
Soon she could hear that he was sleeping, but there was no more
sleep for her. While she constrained herself to lie still lest she
should disturb him, her mind was carrying on a conflict in which
imagination ranged its forces first on one side and then on the other.
She had no presentiment that the power which her husband wished
to establish over her future action had relation to anything else
than his work. But it was clear enough to her that he would expect
her to devote herself to sifting those mixed heaps of material,
which were to be the doubtful illustration of principles still
more doubtful. The poor child had become altogether unbelieving
as to the trustworthiness of that Key which had made the ambition
and the labor of her husband's life. It was not wonderful that,
in spite of her small instruction, her judgment in this matter was
truer than his: for she looked with unbiassed comparison and
healthy sense at probabilities on which he had risked all his egoism.
And now she pictured to herself the days, and months, and years which
she must spend in sorting what might be called shattered mummies,
and fragments of a tradition which was itself a mosaic wrought from
crushed ruins--sorting them as food for a theory which was already
withered in the birth like an elfin child. Doubtless a vigorous
error vigorously pursued has kept the embryos of truth a-breathing:
the quest of gold being at the same time a questioning of substances,
the body of chemistry is prepared for its soul, and Lavoisier is born.
But Mr. Casaubon's theory of the elements which made the seed of all
tradition was not likely to bruise itself unawares against discoveries:
it floated among flexible conjectures no more solid than those
etymologies which seemed strong because of likeness in sound until
it was shown that likeness in sound made them impossible: it was
a method of interpretation which was not tested by the necessity
of forming anything which had sharper collisions than an elaborate
notion of Gog and Magog: it was as free from interruption as a
plan for threading the stars together. And Dorothea had so often
had to check her weariness and impatience over this questionable
riddle-guessing, as it revealed itself to her instead of the
fellowship in high knowledge which was to make life worthier!
She could understand well enough now why her husband had come
to cling to her, as possibly the only hope left that his labors
would ever take a shape in which they could be given to the world.
At first it had seemed that he wished to keep even her aloof from
any close knowledge of what he was doing; but gradually the terrible
stringency of human need--the prospect of a too speedy death--
And here Dorothea's pity turned from her own future to her
husband's past--nay, to his present hard struggle with a lot which had
grown out of that past: the lonely labor, the ambition breathing
hardly under the pressure of self-distrust; the goal receding,
and the heavier limbs; and now at last the sword visibly trembling
above him! And had she not wished to marry him that she might help
him in his life's labor?--But she had thought the work was to be
something greater, which she could serve in devoutly for its own sake.
Was it right, even to soothe his grief--would it be possible,
even if she promised--to work as in a treadmill fruitlessly?
And yet, could she deny him? Could she say, "I refuse to content
this pining hunger?" It would be refusing to do for him dead,
what she was almost sure to do for him living. If he lived
as Lydgate had said he might, for fifteen years or more, her life
would certainly be spent in helping him and obeying him.
Still, there was a deep difference between that devotion to the
living and that indefinite promise of devotion to the dead.
While he lived, he could claim nothing that she would not still
be free to remonstrate against, and even to refuse. But--
the thought passed through her mind more than once, though she
could not believe in it--might he not mean to demand something
more from her than she had been able to imagine, since he wanted
her pledge to carry out his wishes without telling her exactly
what they were? No; his heart was bound up in his work only:
that was the end for which his failing life was to be eked out by hers.
And now, if she were to say, "No! if you die, I will put no finger
to your work"--it seemed as if she would be crushing that bruised heart.
For four hours Dorothea lay in this conflict, till she felt ill
and bewildered, unable to resolve, praying mutely. Helpless as a
child which has sobbed and sought too long, she fell into a late
morning sleep, and when she waked Mr. Casaubon was already up.
Tantripp told her that he had read prayers, breakfasted, and was
in the library.
"I never saw you look so pale, madam," said Tantripp, a solid-figured
woman who had been with the sisters at Lausanne.
"Was I ever high-colored, Tantripp?" said Dorothea, smiling faintly.
"Well, not to say high-colored, but with a bloom like a Chiny rose.
But always smelling those leather books, what can be expected?
Do rest a little this morning, madam. Let me say you are ill and not
able to go into that close library."
"Oh no, no! let me make haste," said Dorothea. "Mr. Casaubon wants
When she went down she felt sure that she should promise to fulfil
his wishes; but that would be later in the day--not yet.
As Dorothea entered the library, Mr. Casaubon turned round from
the table where he had been placing some books, and said--
"I was waiting for your appearance, my dear. I had hoped
to set to work at once this morning, but I find myself under
some indisposition, probably from too much excitement yesterday.
I am going now to take a turn in the shrubbery, since the air is milder."
"I am glad to hear that," said Dorothea. "Your mind, I feared,
was too active last night."
"I would fain have it set at rest on the point
I last spoke of, Dorothea. You can now, I hope, give me an answer."
"May I come out to you in the garden presently?" said Dorothea,
winning a little breathing space in that way.
"I shall be in the Yew-tree Walk for the next half-hour,"
said Mr. Casaubon, and then he left her.
Dorothea, feeling very weary, rang and asked Tantripp to bring
her some wraps. She had been sitting still for a few minutes,
but not in any renewal of the former conflict: she simply felt
that she was going to say "Yes" to her own doom: she was too weak,
too full of dread at the thought of inflicting a keen-edged blow
on her husband, to do anything but submit completely. She sat still
and let Tantripp put on her bonnet and shawl, a passivity which was
unusual with her, for she liked to wait on herself.
"God bless you, madam!" said Tantripp, with an irrepressible movement
of love towards the beautiful, gentle creature for whom she felt
unable to do anything more, now that she had finished tying the bonnet.
This was too much for Dorothea's highly-strung feeling, and she
burst into tears, sobbing against Tantripp's arm. But soon she
checked herself, dried her eyes, and went out at the glass door
into the shrubbery.
"I wish every book in that library was built into a caticom for
your master," said Tantripp to Pratt, the butler, finding him in the
breakfast-room. She had been at Rome, and visited the antiquities,
as we know; and she always declined to call Mr. Casaubon anything
but "your master," when speaking to the other servants.
Pratt laughed. He liked his master very well, but he liked
When Dorothea was out on the gravel walks, she lingered among the
nearer clumps of trees, hesitating, as she had done once before,
though from a different cause. Then she had feared lest her effort
at fellowship should be unwelcome; now she dreaded going to the spot
where she foresaw that she must bind herself to a fellowship from
which she shrank. Neither law nor the world's opinion compelled
her to this--only her husband's nature and her own compassion,
only the ideal and not the real yoke of marriage. She saw clearly
enough the whole situation, yet she was fettered: she could not
smite the stricken soul that entreated hers. If that were weakness,
Dorothea was weak. But the half-hour was passing, and she must not
delay longer. When she entered the Yew-tree Walk she could not see
her husband; but the walk had bends, and she went, expecting to catch
sight of his figure wrapped in a blue cloak, which, with a warm
velvet cap, was his outer garment on chill days for the garden.
It occurred to her that he might be resting in the summer-house,
towards which the path diverged a little. Turning the angle,
she could see him seated on the bench, close to a stone table.
His arms were resting on the table, and his brow was bowed down on them,
the blue cloak being dragged forward and screening his face on
"He exhausted himself last night," Dorothea said to herself,
thinking at first that he was asleep, and that the summer-house was
too damp a place to rest in. But then she remembered that of late
she had seen him take that attitude when she was reading to him,
as if he found it easier than any other; and that he would
sometimes speak, as well as listen, with his face down in that way.
She went into the summerhouse and said, "I am come, Edward; I am ready."
He took no notice, and she thought that he must be fast asleep.
She laid her hand on his shoulder, and repeated, "I am ready!"
Still he was motionless; and with a sudden confused fear, she leaned
down to him, took off his velvet cap, and leaned her cheek close to
his head, crying in a distressed tone--
"Wake, dear, wake! Listen to me. I am come to answer."
But Dorothea never gave her answer.
Later in the day, Lydgate was seated by her bedside, and she was
talking deliriously, thinking aloud, and recalling what had gone
through her mind the night before. She knew him, and called him
by his name, but appeared to think it right that she should explain
everything to him; and again, and again, begged him to explain
everything to her husband.
"Tell him I shall go to him soon: I am ready to promise.
Only, thinking about it was so dreadful--it has made me ill.
Not very ill. I shall soon be better. Go and tell him."
But the silence in her husband's ear was never more to be broken.
A task too strong for wizard spells
This squire had brought about;
'T is easy dropping stones in wells,
But who shall get them out?"
"I wish to God we could hinder Dorothea from knowing this," said Sir
James Chettam, with a little frown on his brow, and an expression
of intense disgust about his mouth.
He was standing on the hearth-rug in the library at Lowick Grange,
and speaking to Mr. Brooke. It was the day after Mr. Casaubon had
been buried, and Dorothea was not yet able to leave her room.
"That would be difficult, you know, Chettam, as she is an executrix,
and she likes to go into these things--property, land, that kind
of thing. She has her notions, you know," said Mr. Brooke,
sticking his eye-glasses on nervously, and exploring the edges of a
folded paper which he held in his hand; "and she would like to act--
depend upon it, as an executrix Dorothea would want to act. And she
was twenty-one last December, you know. I can hinder nothing."
Sir James looked at the carpet for a minute in silence, and then
lifting his eyes suddenly fixed them on Mr. Brooke, saying, "I will
tell you what we can do. Until Dorothea is well, all business must
be kept from her, and as soon as she is able to be moved she must
come to us. Being with Celia and the baby will be the best thing
in the world for her, and will pass away the time. And meanwhile you
must get rid of Ladislaw: you must send him out of the country."
Here Sir James's look of disgust returned in all its intensity.
Mr. Brooke put his hands behind him, walked to the window
and straightened his back with a little shake before he replied.
"That is easily said, Chettam, easily said, you know."
"My dear sir," persisted Sir James, restraining his indignation
within respectful forms, "it was you who brought him here, and you
who keep him here--I mean by the occupation you give him."
"Yes, but I can't dismiss him in an instant without assigning reasons,
my dear Chettam. Ladislaw has been invaluable, most satisfactory.
I consider that I have done this part of the country a service by
bringing him--by bringing him, you know." Mr. Brooke ended with a nod,
turning round to give it.
"It's a pity this part of the country didn't do without him,
that's all I have to say about it. At any rate, as Dorothea's
brother-in-law, I feel warranted in objecting strongly to his being
kept here by any action on the part of her friends. You admit,
I hope, that I have a right to speak about what concerns the dignity
of my wife's sister?"
Sir James was getting warm.
"Of course, my dear Chettam, of course. But you and I have
"Not about this action of Casaubon's, I should hope," interrupted
Sir James. "I say that he has most unfairly compromised Dorothea.
I say that there never was a meaner, more ungentlemanly action
than this--a codicil of this sort to a will which he made at the time
of his marriage with the knowledge and reliance of her family--
a positive insult to Dorothea!"
"Well, you know, Casaubon was a little twisted about Ladislaw.
Ladislaw has told me the reason--dislike of the bent he took, you know--
Ladislaw didn't think much of Casaubon's notions, Thoth and Dagon--
that sort of thing: and I fancy that Casaubon didn't like the
independent position Ladislaw had taken up. I saw the letters
between them, you know. Poor Casaubon was a little buried in books--
he didn't know the world."
"It's all very well for Ladislaw to put that color on it,"
said Sir James. "But I believe Casaubon was only jealous of him
on Dorothea's account, and the world will suppose that she
gave him some reason; and that is what makes it so abominable--
coupling her name with this young fellow's."
"My dear Chettam, it won't lead to anything, you know,"
said Mr. Brooke, seating himself and sticking on his eye-
glass again. "It's all of a piece with Casaubon's oddity.
This paper, now, `Synoptical Tabulation' and so on, `for the use
of Mrs. Casaubon,' it was locked up in the desk with the will.
I suppose he meant Dorothea to publish his researches, eh? and
she'll do it, you know; she has gone into his studies uncommonly."
"My dear sir," said Sir James, impatiently, "that is neither
here nor there. The question is, whether you don't see with me
the propriety of sending young Ladislaw away?"
"Well, no, not the urgency of the thing. By-and-by, perhaps,
it may come round. As to gossip, you know, sending him away won't
hinder gossip. People say what they like to say, not what they
have chapter and verse for," said Mr Brooke, becoming acute about
the truths that lay on the side of his own wishes. "I might get rid
of Ladislaw up to a certain point--take away the `Pioneer' from him,
and that sort of thing; but I couldn't send him out of the country
if he didn't choose to go--didn't choose, you know."
Mr. Brooke, persisting as quietly as if he were only discussing
the nature of last year's weather, and nodding at the end with his
usual amenity, was an exasperating form of obstinacy.
"Good God!" said Sir James, with as much passion as he ever showed,
"let us get him a post; let us spend money on him. If he could go
in the suite of some Colonial Governor! Grampus might take him--
and I could write to Fulke about it."
"But Ladislaw won't be shipped off like a head of cattle, my dear fellow;
Ladislaw has his ideas. It's my opinion that if he were to part
from me to-morrow, you'd only hear the more of him in the country.
With his talent for speaking and drawing up documents, there are
few men who could come up to him as an agitator--an agitator,
"Agitator!" said Sir James, with bitter emphasis, feeling that
the syllables of this word properly repeated were a sufficient
exposure of its hatefulness.
"But be reasonable, Chettam. Dorothea, now. As you say,
she had better go to Celia as soon as possible. She can stay under
your roof, and in the mean time things may come round quietly.
Don't let us be firing off our guns in a hurry, you know.
Standish will keep our counsel, and the news will be old before
it's known. Twenty things may happen to carry off Ladislaw--
without my doing anything, you know."
"Then I am to conclude that you decline to do anything?"
"Decline, Chettam?--no--I didn't say decline. But I really don't
see what I could do. Ladislaw is a gentleman."
"I am glad to hear It!" said Sir James, his irritation making him
forget himself a little. "I am sure Casaubon was not."
"Well, it would have been worse if he had made the codicil to hinder
her from marrying again at all, you know."
"I don't know that," said Sir James. "It would have been
"One of poor Casaubon's freaks! That attack upset his brain a little.
It all goes for nothing. She doesn't _want_ to marry Ladislaw."
"But this codicil is framed so as to make everybody believe that she did.
I don't believe anything of the sort about Dorothea," said Sir James--
then frowningly, "but I suspect Ladislaw. I tell you frankly,
I suspect Ladislaw."
"I couldn't take any immediate action on that ground, Chettam. In fact,
if it were possible to pack him off--send him to Norfolk Island--
that sort of thing--it would look all the worse for Dorothea to
those who knew about it. It would seem as if we distrusted her--
distrusted her, you know."
That Mr. Brooke had hit on an undeniable argument, did not tend
to soothe Sir James. He put out his hand to reach his hat,
implying that he did not mean to contend further, and said,
still with some heat--
"Well, I can only say that I think Dorothea was sacrificed once,
because her friends were too careless. I shall do what I can,
as her brother, to protect her now."
"You can't do better than get her to Freshitt as soon as possible,
Chettam. I approve that plan altogether," said Mr. Brooke, well pleased
that he had won the argument. It would have been highly inconvenient
to him to part with Ladislaw at that time, when a dissolution might
happen any day, and electors were to be convinced of the course by
which the interests of the country would be best served. Mr. Brooke
sincerely believed that this end could be secured by his own return
to Parliament: he offered the forces of his mind honestly to the nation.
"`This Loller here wol precilen us somewhat.'
`Nay by my father's soule! that schal he nat,'
Sayde the Schipman, `here schal he not preche,
We schal no gospel glosen here ne teche.
We leven all in the gret God,' quod he.
He wolden sowen some diffcultee."
Dorothea had been safe at Freshitt Hall nearly a week before she had asked
any dangerous questions. Every morning now she sat with Celia in the
prettiest of up-stairs sitting-rooms, opening into a small conservatory--
Celia all in white and lavender like a bunch of mixed violets,
watching the remarkable acts of the baby, which were so dubious
to her inexperienced mind that all conversation was interrupted
by appeals for their interpretation made to the oracular nurse.
Dorothea sat by in her widow's dress, with an expression which rather
provoked Celia, as being much too sad; for not only was baby quite well,
but really when a husband had been so dull and troublesome while
he lived, and besides that had--well, well! Sir James, of course,
had told Celia everything, with a strong representation how important
it was that Dorothea should not know it sooner than was inevitable.
But Mr. Brooke had been right in predicting that Dorothea would not
long remain passive where action had been assigned to her; she knew
the purport of her husband's will made at the time of their marriage,
and her mind, as soon as she was clearly conscious of her position,
was silently occupied with what she ought to do as the owner
of Lowick Manor with the patronage of the living attached to it.
One morning when her uncle paid his usual visit, though with an unusual
alacrity in his manner which he accounted for by saying that it
was now pretty certain Parliament would be dissolved forthwith,
"Uncle, it is right now that I should consider who is to have
the living at Lowick. After Mr. Tucker had been provided for,
I never heard my husband say that he had any clergyman in his
mind as a successor to himself. I think I ought to have the
keys now and go to Lowick to examine all my husband's papers.
There may be something that would throw light on his wishes."
"No hurry, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, quietly. "By-and-by, you know,
you can go, if you like. But I cast my eyes over things in the
desks and drawers--there was nothing--nothing but deep subjects,
you know--besides the will. Everything can be done by-and-by. As
to the living, I have had an application for interest already--
I should say rather good. Mr. Tyke has been strongly recommended
to me--I had something to do with getting him an appointment before.
An apostolic man, I believe--the sort of thing that would suit you,
"I should like to have fuller knowledge about him, uncle, and judge
for myself, if Mr. Casaubon has not left any expression of his wishes.
He has perhaps made some addition to his will--there may be some
instructions for me," said Dorothea, who had all the while had this
conjecture in her mind with relation to her husband's work.
"Nothing about the rectory, my dear--nothing," said Mr. Brooke,
rising to go away, and putting out his hand to his nieces:
"nor about his researches, you know. Nothing in the will."
Dorothea's lip quivered.
"Come, you must not think of these things yet, my dear.
By-and-by, you know."
"I am quite well now, uncle; I wish to exert myself."
"Well, well, we shall see. But I must run away now--I have no end
of work now--it's a crisis--a political crisis, you know. And here
is Celia and her little man--you are an aunt, you know, now, and I
am a sort of grandfather," said Mr. Brooke, with placid hurry,
anxious to get away and tell Chettam that it would not be his
(Mr. Brooke's) fault if Dorothea insisted on looking into everything.
Dorothea sank back in her chair when her uncle had left the room,
and cast her eyes down meditatively on her crossed hands.
"Look, Dodo! look at him! Did you ever see anything like that?"
said Celia, in her comfortable staccato.
"What, Kitty?" said Dorothea, lifting her eyes rather absently.
"What? why, his upper lip; see how he is drawing it down,
as if he meant to make a face. Isn't it wonderful! He may have
his little thoughts. I wish nurse were here. Do look at him."
A large tear which had been for some time gathering, rolled down
Dorothea's cheek as she looked up and tried to smile.
"Don't be sad, Dodo; kiss baby. What are you brooding over so?
I am sure you did everything, and a great deal too much. You should
be happy now."
"I wonder if Sir James would drive me to Lowick. I want to look
over everything--to see if there were any words written for me."
"You are not to go till Mr. Lydgate says you may go. And he
has not said so yet (here you are, nurse; take baby and walk
up and down the gallery). Besides, you have got a wrong notion
in your head as usual, Dodo--I can see that: it vexes me."
"Where am I wrong, Kitty?" said Dorothea, quite meekly. She was
almost ready now to think Celia wiser than herself, and was really
wondering with some fear what her wrong notion was. Celia felt
her advantage, and was determined to use it. None of them knew Dodo
as well as she did, or knew how to manage her. Since Celia's
baby was born, she had had a new sense of her mental solidity
and calm wisdom. It seemed clear that where there was a baby,
things were right enough, and that error, in general, was a mere
lack of that central poising force.
"I can see what you are thinking of as well as can be, Dodo,"
said Celia. "You are wanting to find out if there is anything
uncomfortable for you to do now, only because Mr. Casaubon wished it.
As if you had not been uncomfortable enough before. And he doesn't
deserve it, and you will find that out. He has behaved very badly.
James is as angry with him as can be. And I had better tell you,
to prepare you."
"Celia," said Dorothea, entreatingly, "you distress me.
Tell me at once what you mean." It glanced through her mind that'
Mr. Casaubon had left the property away from her--which would not
be so very distressing.
"Why, he has made a codicil to his will, to say the property was
all to go away from you if you married--I mean--"
"That is of no consequence," said Dorothea, breaking in impetuously.
"But if you married Mr. Ladislaw, not anybody else," Celia went
on with persevering quietude. "Of course that is of no consequence
in one way--you never _would_ marry Mr. Ladislaw; but that only
makes it worse of Mr. Casaubon."
The blood rushed to Dorothea's face and neck painfully. But Celia
was administering what she thought a sobering dose of fact.
It was taking up notions that had done Dodo's health so much harm.
So she went on in her neutral tone, as if she had been remarking on
"James says so. He says it is abominable, and not like a gentleman.
And there never was a better judge than James. It is as if
Mr. Casaubon wanted to make people believe that you would wish
to marry Mr. Ladislaw--which is ridiculous. Only James says it
was to hinder Mr. Ladislaw from wanting to marry you for your money--
just as if he ever would think of making you an offer. Mrs. Cadwallader
said you might as well marry an Italian with white mice! But I
must just go and look at baby," Celia added, without the least
change of tone, throwing a light shawl over her, and tripping away.
Dorothea by this time had turned cold again, and now threw herself
back helplessly in her chair. She might have compared her experience
at that moment to the vague, alarmed consciousness that her life
was taking on a new form that she was undergoing a metamorphosis in
which memory would not adjust itself to the stirring of new organs.
Everything was changing its aspect: her husband's conduct,
her own duteous feeling towards him, every struggle between them--
and yet more, her whole relation to Will Ladislaw. Her world
was in a state of convulsive change; the only thing she could say
distinctly to herself was, that she must wait and think anew.
One change terrified her as if it had been a sin; it was a
violent shock of repulsion from her departed husband, who had had
hidden thoughts, perhaps perverting everything she said and did.
Then again she was conscious of another change which also made
her tremulous; it was a sudden strange yearning of heart towards
Will Ladislaw. It had never before entered her mind that he could,
under any circumstances, be her lover: conceive the effect of the
sudden revelation that another had thought of him in that light--
that perhaps he himself had been conscious of such a possibility,--
and this with the hurrying, crowding vision of unfitting conditions,
and questions not soon to be solved.
It seemed a long while--she did not know how long--before she heard
Celia saying, "That will do, nurse; he will be quiet on my lap now.
You can go to lunch, and let Garratt stay in the next room."
"What I think, Dodo," Celia went on, observing nothing more than that
Dorothea was leaning back in her chair, and likely to be passive,
"is that Mr. Casaubon was spiteful. I never did like him, and James
never did. I think the corners of his mouth were dreadfully spiteful.
And now he has behaved in this way, I am sure religion does not
require you to make yourself uncomfortable about him. If he has
been taken away, that is a mercy, and you ought to be grateful.
We should not grieve, should we, baby?" said Celia confidentially
to that unconscious centre and poise of the world, who had the most
remarkable fists all complete even to the nails, and hair enough,
really, when you took his cap off, to make--you didn't know what:--
in short, he was Bouddha in a Western form.
At this crisis Lydgate was announced, and one of the first things he
said was, "I fear you are not so well as you were, Mrs. Casaubon;
have you been agitated? allow me to feel your pulse." Dorothea's hand
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