Sunday, May 21, 2017

Books 4 and 5 of Middlemarch

From Chapter 36

Lydgate thought that after all his wild mistakes and absurd credulity, he had found
perfect womanhood--felt as if already breathed upon by exquisite wedded
venerated his high musings and momentous labors and would never
affection such as would be bestowed by an accomplished creature who
interfere with them; who would create order in the home and accounts
true womanly limit and not a hair's-breadth beyond--docile, therefore,
with still magic, yet keep her fingers ready to touch the lute and
transform life into romance at any moment; who was instructed to the
and ready to carry out behests which came from that limit. It was
Brassing, he saw a dinner-service there which struck him as so exactly
plainer now than ever that his notion of remaining much longer a
bachelor had been a mistake: marriage would not be an obstruction but a
furtherance. And happening the next day to accompany a patient to
nature of dinner-services. Furnishing was necessarily expensive; but
the right thing that he bought it at once. It saved time to do these
things just when you thought of them, and Lydgate hated ugly crockery.
The dinner-service in question was expensive, but that might be in the
(Certainly, this was reasoning with an imperfect vision of sequences.
then it had to be done only once.
"It must be lovely," said Mrs. Vincy, when Lydgate mentioned his
purchase with some descriptive touches. "Just what Rosy ought to have.
I trust in heaven it won't be broken!"
less sanctioned by men of science.)
"One must hire servants who will not break things," said Lydgate.
But at that period there was no sort of reasoning which was not more or

Instead of wondering at this result of misery in Mr. Casaubon, I think
it quite ordinary. Will not a tiny speck very close to our vision blot
out the glory of the world, and leave only a margin by which we see the
Casaubon had chosen to expound his discontents--his suspicions that he
blot? I know no speck so troublesome as self. And who, if Mr.
was not any longer adored without criticism--could have denied that
reason to be added, which he had not himself taken explicitly into
they were founded on good reasons? On the contrary, there was a strong
account--namely, that he was not unmixedly adorable. He suspected
This sore susceptibility in relation to Dorothea was thoroughly
this, however, as he suspected other things, without confessing it, and
like the rest of us, felt how soothing it would have been to have a
knew, he added imaginary facts both present and future which became
companion who would never find it out.
prepared before Will Ladislaw had returned to Lowick, and what had
occurred since then had brought Mr. Casaubon's power of suspicious
impressions, were constantly at their weaving work. It would be quite
construction into exasperated activity. To all the facts which he
more real to him than those because they called up a stronger dislike,
Ladislaw's intentions, suspicion and jealousy of Dorothea's
a more predominating bitterness. Suspicion and jealousy of Will
unjust to him to suppose that he could have entered into any coarse
might be given to her ardent mind in its judgments, and the future
misinterpretation of Dorothea: his own habits of mind and conduct,
quite as much as the open elevation of her nature, saved him from any
such mistake. What he was jealous of was her opinion, the sway that
possibilities to which these might lead her.


What the opposition in Middlemarch
said about the New Hospital and its administration had certainly a
great deal of echo in it, for heaven has taken care that everybody
represented every social shade between the polished moderation of Dr.
shall not be an originator; but there were differences which
Mrs. Dollop became more and more convinced by her own asseveration,
Minchin and the trenchant assertion of Mrs. Dollop, the landlady of the
Tankard in Slaughter Lane.
poison them, for the sake of cutting them up without saying by your
that Dr. Lydgate meant to let the people die in the Hospital, if not to
leave or with your leave; for it was a known "fac" that he had wanted
who if he was good for anything should know what was the matter with
to cut up Mrs. Goby, as respectable a woman as any in Parley Street,
who had money in trust before her marriage--a poor tale for a doctor,
you before you died, and not want to pry into your inside after you
to the cutting-up of bodies, as had been well seen in Burke and Hare
were gone. If that was not reason, Mrs. Dollop wished to know what
was; but there was a prevalent feeling in her audience that her opinion
was a bulwark, and that if it were overthrown there would be no limits
public-house--the original Tankard, known by the name of Dollop's--was
with their pitch-plaisters--such a hanging business as that was not
wanted in Middlemarch!
Lane was unimportant to the medical profession: that old authentic
And let it not be supposed that opinion at the Tankard in Slaughter
performing the most astonishing cures, and rescuing people altogether
the resort of a great Benefit Club, which had some months before put to
the vote whether its long-standing medical man, "Doctor Gambit," should
given up by other practitioners. But the balance had been turned
not be cashiered in favor of "this Doctor Lydgate," who was capable of
sentiment, of which the unanimity at Dollop's was an index.
against Lydgate by two members, who for some private reasons held that
this power of resuscitating persons as good as dead was an equivocal
course of the year, however, there had been a change in the public
recommendation, and might interfere with providential favors. In the A good deal more than a year ago, before anything was known of
threadbare, like old Featherstone's, had been at once inclined to try
Lydgate's skill, the judgments on it had naturally been divided,
depending on a sense of likelihood, situated perhaps in the pit of the
stomach or in the pineal gland, and differing in its verdicts, but not
Patients who had chronic diseases or whose lives had long been worn
the less valuable as a guide in the total deficit of evidence.
that he might do more than others "where there was liver;"--at least
him; also, many who did not like paying their doctor's bills, thought
agreeably of opening an account with a new doctor and sending for him
the old practitioners were often crusty; and all persons thus inclined
without stint if the children's temper wanted a dose, occasions when
to employ Lydgate held it likely that he was clever. Some considered
not feel obliged to accept a new man merely in the character of his
there would be no harm in getting a few bottles of "stuff" from him,
since if these proved useless it would still be possible to return to
the Purifying Pills, which kept you alive if they did not remove the
Middlemarch families were of course not going to change their doctor
yellowness. But these were people of minor importance. Good
without reason shown; and everybody who had employed Mr. Peacock did
like a statistical amount without a standard of comparison, but with a
successor, objecting that he was "not likely to be equal to Peacock."

But Lydgate had not been long in the town before there were particulars
enough reported of him to breed much more specific expectations and to
of that impressive order of which the significance is entirely hidden,
intensify differences into partisanship; some of the particulars beingnote of exclamation at the end. The cubic feet of oxygen yearly
whom he ranged himself; and only a little while before, they might have
swallowed by a full-grown man--what a shudder they might have created
in some Middlemarch circles! "Oxygen! nobody knows what that may
be--is it any wonder the cholera has got to Dantzic? And yet there are
people who say quarantine is no good!"
One of the facts quickly rumored was that Lydgate did not dispense
of his reasons, pointing out to Mr. Mawmsey that it must lower the
drugs. This was offensive both to the physicians whose exclusive
distinction seemed infringed on, and to the surgeon-apothecaries with
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
subject, he was injudicious enough to give a hasty popular explanation
not one of his patients, questioned him in an affable manner on the
long bills for draughts, boluses, and mixtures.
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


Mr. Bulstrode was conscious of being in a good spiritual frame and more
than usually serene, under the influence of his innocent recreation.
himself; but that doctrinal conviction may be held without pain when
He was doctrinally convinced that there was a total absence of merit in
the sense of demerit does not take a distinct shape in memory and
measure for the depth of forgiveness, and a clenching proof that we are
revive the tingling of shame or the pang of remorse. Nay, it may be
held with intense satisfaction when the depth of our sinning is but a
moment Mr. Bulstrode felt as if the sunshine were all one with that of
peculiar instruments of the divine intention. The memory has as many
moods as the temper, and shifts its scenery like a diorama. At this
and so was his own facility in expounding them.
far-off evenings when he was a very young man and used to go out
preaching beyond Highbury. And he would willingly have had that
service of exhortation in prospect now. The texts were there still,

No comments: